Beginning this week, volunteers for the state’s volunteer ‘My Turn’ program can receive a COVID-19 vaccine for agreeing to help others become vaccinated.
Under the guidelines, those who volunteer for four hours or more with My Turn will automatically become eligible to receive an early COVID-19 vaccine, joining phases 1A and 1B, and being eligible before 1C, which will allow those between 16 and 64 with high risk disabilities.
Volunteer medical workers such as doctors and nurses, will be required to verify their credentials before being accepted as a volunteer. Nonmedical volunteers, however, can sign up for other duties that don’t require verification of a medical license, although some sites may require a background check with others requiring a minimum age of 18 to volunteer. Those who nonmedically volunteer would perform duties such as assisting with vaccine registration, driving those who need assistance to vaccination sites, support medical personnel, directing traffic at sites, help with language translation, or be a vaccination site greeter.
“The program was started to help increase vaccination efforts across the state and especially in communities hit hardest by COVID-19,” explained Christina Valdivia, a representative of the governor’s California Volunteers office, on Tuesday. “There are a variety of ways Californians will be able to help the state’s COVID-19 vaccination efforts. Those include on-site assistance at vaccine distribution sites and individual outreach actions that can be done from home. The My Turn system will connect vaccine distribution sites with volunteers in the area, as well as provide outreach actions to volunteers who have signed up.”
While volunteers who sign up at myturnvolunteer.ca.gov will be eligible for a vaccine, they may not be administered the vaccine after their first shift, as it will be dependent on the number of available vaccines. Volunteers may also have to travel, as the site asks for a potential volunteers zip code and asks if they are willing to travel outside of it.
Early vaccinations in the My Turn program
The My Turn program, in development since last year, was first announced by Governor Gavin Newsom last month. In the run up to the programs introduction this month, Newsom has said that My Turn would be vital to help administer vaccines more quickly and efficiently.
“In the face of challenges, Californians come together and our fight to end this pandemic is no different. Volunteers can play an especially important role in supporting our vaccination efforts by serving at a local vaccination site,” said Governor Newsom in a press release last Friday. “I encourage all Californians to join the My Turn – Volunteer effort in service to their community and together we can reach the light at the end of the tunnel.”
While many Californians are in favor of the program, and giving volunteers early access to vaccinations, some have said that the program is unfairly bumping up those who want to do one shift of volunteering and are otherwise healthy over those who need it, primarily those in the 1C vaccine tier which is currently scheduled to begin receiving vaccines on the 15th.
“I’ve been waiting for this for so long,” said Erin Bannack, a Pasadena resident with a medical condition covered under the 1C tier. “Now there are some healthy people coming in and getting them just for pointing around cars for an afternoon. I thought this was all need based for those who need it, not those wanting to take advantage of the system.”
Volunteer sign-ups will continue through My Turn for as long as volunteers are needed to help with vaccinations in each county.