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People eligible for COVID vaccinations can’t get appointments in San Diego

Frustrations mount with online appointment sites.

SAN DIEGO — News 8 continues to receive emails from viewers who are frustrated over trying to get an appointment for a COVID vaccine.

“I’ve been on the website for Rite Aid, for CVS, for the one for the county, and I can’t get any appointment,” said Donnie Smith.

The Rite Aid pharmacy in Tierrasanta was the latest stop for Smith, who has been trying for days to book a vaccination appointment.

“I’ve been online since Sunday night. I was up ‘til after midnight all the way to 8 o’clock in the morning. It just spun and spun, no instructions,” said Smith.

Smith is age 63 and suffers from a weakened immune system.

On Monday, San Diego County’s vaccine eligibility list finally expanded to include Smith’s underlying condition.

“I want to get on and get my shot. I got things to do. I want to go take care of my mom. I can’t do that because I just can’t find a way to make an appointment,” she said.

Part of the problem: San Diego County’s eligibility requirements are actually broader than those of California.

So, if you have Type 1 diabetes, for example, you are eligible to get vaccinated in San Diego, but some online appointment sites might list you as ineligible.

“It makes it difficult to legitimately schedule even though you qualify,” said Rachel Graham, a former COVID health care worker.

Graham said the pharmacy websites tend to ask more occupational-type questions.

Some people have been able to book appointments by selecting a qualifying occupation other than their own, like food and agriculture, for example.

“I don’t think it’s cheating if you are eligible and you are able to be scheduled to get the vaccine,” said Graham.

“They can also put in a zip code that’s not their home zip code, but is a zip code near a [vaccination] super site to try to find more access,” Graham said.

Once your appointment is booked, however, be prepared to verify your eligibility with paperwork.

WATCH: More Californians are eligible for COVID-19 vaccine starting March 15