No Internet Access? No Time? LA Collective Books Shots for Those Left Behind

Francesca Billington

Francesca Billington is a freelance reporter. Prior to that, she was a general assignment reporter for dot.LA and has also reported for KCRW, the Santa Monica Daily Press and local publications in New Jersey. She graduated from Princeton in 2019 with a degree in anthropology.

No Internet Access? No Time? LA Collective Books Shots for Those Left Behind

Where are the vaccine clinics open at night?

It's a question volunteers from Get Out the Shot hear often as they book appointments for people who have a hard time doing it themselves — many of them without internet or much free time.

"My fear is the technology and the way you book appointments is not getting easier," said Rebecca Lehrer, who started helping in February when the effort was still driven by a Facebook group.


California's COVID-19 vaccine eligibility tiers will become obsolete next week when anyone 16 or older is free to book an appointment. On Thursday, Long Beach made shots available to all residents 16 and over, while Cal State Los Angeles opened its site up to people at least 18, before it was overwhelmed and started turning crowds away.

The rush at the Los Angeles university may be a sign of what's to come.

Known as GOTS, the volunteer collective of more than 300 is expecting its caseload to get bigger even as more vaccine appointments become available. The group is one of a handful that have cropped up since vaccines landed in California.

Recently, software developers across the country started launching automated websites and Twitter bots to blast out new slots. But those platforms haven't proven to be the solution for everyone.

"It's really a myth," said Liz Schwandt, an L.A. preschool program director who started Get Out the Shot. "Even if supply increases — even if there are more appointments — they're still not grab-able or accessible for the most vulnerable."

Many have specific concerns and requests — ones that make getting a shot much more complicated than just clicking a button on MyTurn.

Some call in because their employers won't give them time off to get vaccinated. Others want to secure an appointment at night, when most clinics are closed. Occasionally, callers are looking for a certain vaccine brand.

And many are nervous about navigating a health care system in which insurance and immigration status are often barriers to care, Schwandt said.

"They're used to having a system that doesn't work for them," said Schwandt.

The issue speaks to the enormous feat of implementing a national vaccination strategy that relies on people having stable internet, job flexibility and free time.

"One of the neighbors I'm trying to book for — who doesn't have internet — is not on Twitter looking at Walgreens' latest appointment drop," said Schwandt.

As the state inches towards an appointment free-for-all, public health officials say they will continue to use single-use "access codes" for target groups and residents in zip codes in the bottom half of the Healthy Places Index.

In February, misuse of state-issued vaccine access codes designed to serve Black and Latino communities rattled California's equity program. Many of the L.A. residents who used and circulated those credentials were not yet eligible.

"Our team is also working closely with community-based organizations that are trusted voices on the ground," added Sami Gallegos, spokesperson for the California Department of Public Health.

Schwandt hopes to secure blocks of appointments next week for those calling in. So far, every person who gets a shot through the service refers about 10 people back.

"People are already calling this week to pre-schedule," said volunteer Michael Altneu, an EMT who plans to administer vaccinations in Del Mar later this month. "I think people are going to try to do it first on their own. A few days after, when all the shots get booked up, we're going to see a deluge of calls."

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Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

When avatar startup Genies raised $150 million in April, the company released an unusual message to the public: “Farewell.”

The Marina del Rey-based unicorn, which makes cartoon-like avatars for celebrities and aims to “build an avatar for every single person on Earth,” didn’t go under. Rather, Genies announced it would stay quiet for a while to focus on building avatar-creation products.

Genies representatives told dot.LA that the firm is now seeking more creators to try its creation tools for 3D avatars, digital fashion items and virtual experiences. On Thursday, the startup launched a three-week program called DIY Collective, which will mentor and financially support up-and-coming creatives.

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Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

LA Tech Week—a weeklong showcase of the region’s growing startup ecosystem—is coming this August.

The seven-day series of events, from Aug. 15 through Aug. 21, is a chance for the Los Angeles startup community to network, share insights and pitch themselves to investors. It comes a year after hundreds of people gathered for a similar event that allowed the L.A. tech community—often in the shadow of Silicon Valley—to flex its muscles.

From fireside chats with prominent founders to a panel on aerospace, here are some highlights from the roughly 30 events happening during LA Tech Week, including one hosted by dot.LA.

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LA Tech ‘Moves’: HyperDraft Taps LegalZoom Exec

Decerry Donato

Decerry Donato is a reporter at dot.LA. Prior to that, she was an editorial fellow at the company. Decerry received her bachelor's degree in literary journalism from the University of California, Irvine. She continues to write stories to inform the community about issues or events that take place in the L.A. area. On the weekends, she can be found hiking in the Angeles National forest or sifting through racks at your local thrift store.

LA Tech ‘Moves’: HyperDraft Taps LegalZoom Exec
Photo by James Opas | Modified by Joshua Letona

“Moves,” our roundup of job changes in L.A. tech, is presented by Interchange.LA, dot.LA's recruiting and career platform connecting Southern California's most exciting companies with top tech talent. Create a free Interchange.LA profile here—and if you're looking for ways to supercharge your recruiting efforts, find out more about Interchange.LA's white-glove recruiting service by emailing Sharmineh O’Farrill Lewis (sharmineh@dot.la). Please send job changes and personnel moves to moves@dot.la.

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