Pasadena cancels COVID-19 vaccine clinic after hundreds of ineligible people make appointments

PASADENA, Calif. (KABC) -- The city of Pasadena was forced to cancel a vaccination clinic for Thursday after hundreds of ineligible people got their hands on a link that allowed them to register for one of the slots.

The city was prepared to administer 1,500 first and second doses of the coronavirus vaccine at a drive-thru and walk-up site in a parking structure next to Pasadena City College. It would have been the city's largest vaccination effort to date.

City officials on Tuesday announced its cancellation because a record number of people not yet eligible to receive the shot used that link to make an appointment.

"Unfortunately, somebody shared it that was in the entertainment, production or media industry and it spread like wildfire to others," said Lisa Derderian, the city's public information officer.

"Within an hour, we had over 900 sign-ups. None of them qualified under this current tier. They did not live or work in the city of Pasadena. Some had addresses over an hour away," she added.

The city says it does not have enough staff to call all 900 ineligible people and instead decided to cancel the event.

Pasadena uses registration software provided by the state. Officials say it's been a challenge to find a system that prevents cheaters gaining access.

California officials explain how COVID-19 vaccine codes were shared, misused
EMBED More News Videos

California's My Turn system is meant to improve vaccine availability in underserved communities, but in some instances, codes used to book an appointment ended up being used by people who are not yet eligible.

They're urging individuals not to share vaccine codes and links because it has now resulted in vaccination delays for qualified adults.

"It takes away from those that are eligible and now cannot move forward. These senior populations and the other workers that we need to get vaccinated so they can move forward and (for) more openings in the next week," Derderian said.

A new date has not been set, but officials are hoping to reschedule very soon.

Efforts by people to "jump the line" and obtain the vaccine before they're eligible have been repeatedly decried by state and local health officials, yet the problem has persisted. Los Angeles County health officials have dealt with issues of people obtaining what were supposed to be secure registration codes to make appointments at vaccine clinics reserved for select
groups of residents.

The issue was highlighted when Gov. Gavin Newsom made an appearance at a public housing complex in the county, where a vaccine clinic had been set up for low-income residents of the neighborhood, using a dedicated appointment-registration code. Many people who showed up to the clinic with appointments lived outside the area, but had managed to obtain the code, preventing actual residents from making appointments.

City News Service contributed to this report.
Copyright © 2022 KABC Television, LLC. All rights reserved.