Santa Clara County officials said Tuesday that an untold number of residents were wrongly invited to receive extra COVID-19 vaccine doses by erroneous text messages.
County officials said that some community members reported receiving text messages wrongly informing them of “extra” vaccine supply availability and providing them with registration links for appointments at vaccination sites in Santa Clara County.
“The County is investigating the source of this misinformation and reminds the public that vaccination appointments are currently being scheduled for healthcare workers who qualify for vaccination under Phase 1A,” county officials said in a statement Tuesday.
County Executive Jeff Smith told the board of supervisors Tuesday that a web link to arrange vaccine appointments is normally given to an eligible recipient after the person completes a declaration that they meet the prioritization requirements.
But Smith said that somehow, the web link was being sent out to people who had not completed that attestation. State and federal authorities have called for front-line medical professionals and residents and staff of longterm care facilities caring for the elderly to be in the first priority tier, or 1A.
In response to a question by Supervisor Joe Simitian, Smith said that “hacked is the wrong word,” but that the web link was accessed “inappropriately.”
The mishap resulted in several residents showing up at county facilities expecting a vaccine, some of whom had to be turned away because they didn’t meet the priority criteria.
The county expects that many healthcare providers in the region will soon expand access to the next group of residents eligible for vaccination under the State’s guidance for Phase 1B Tier 1 – those age 75 and older, and certain frontline essential workers like teachers.
The county’s website at sccfreevax.org is the official source for vaccine-related information in Santa Clara County, and is regularly updated to reflect which community members are currently eligible to receive the vaccine, as well as how those individuals can schedule appointments.
To ensure that they meet eligibility criteria for vaccination, every person will be asked to provide verification of their status upon arrival to a vaccination site for their appointment.