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COVID-19 Vaccines: How to Volunteer to Help Distribution

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Registered Nurse Emily Enos loads the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe ahead of distribution to seniors above the age of 65 who are experiencing homelessness at the Los Angeles Mission, in the Skid Row area of Downtown Los Angeles on Feb. 10, 2021, as the fight against the coronavirus pandemic continues.  (Photo by Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)

Updated March 9 to include information about My Turn Volunteer, which now offers the COVID-19 vaccine in return for at least four hours of volunteer work.

We've been asking for your questions around the COVID-19 vaccine for weeks now. And one big question we're hearing: "How can I volunteer to help the vaccination effort?"

There are several available programs, either run by the state of California or by Bay Area counties themselves. As California expands its vaccination program and site capacity, new volunteer opportunities will likely continue to open up around the Bay Area. We'll add them as we find them here — and if you know of one that's not listed in this story, let us know.

Before taking a look at volunteer opportunities around the Bay Area, consider these quick questions:

Do You Have Medical Training?

Some organizations and locations are only looking for volunteers with a medical background. We've noted MEDICAL next to these opportunities.

Can You Volunteer Safely?

If you're in a group with a higher risk of contracting a severe case of COVID-19, or have have underlying conditions that increase your risk of complications from COVID-19, you may consider remote volunteering instead. We've noted REMOTE next to the opportunities we found that are virtual.

Are You Prepared to Wait?

Several counties are warning volunteer applicants of delays in vetting, and say it might be a while before you hear back from anyone about your application — either because of processing times or because officials are waiting to hit a certain threshold of vaccinations when more volunteer support will be required. So, we'd recommend patience when waiting to hear back about volunteering. In the meantime, you might consider other volunteering opportunities that support your community, such as volunteering at a local food bank.

My Turn Volunteer

MEDICAL  |  NON-MEDICAL 

My Turn is the state's site for finding and scheduling vaccine appointments (more information here), and now it has a new volunteer sign-up portal called My Turn Volunteer. You can sign up for medical and non-medical "general support" shifts at California vaccination sites and to receive updates on when new opportunities open near you.

The big news: As reported by SFGate, working four hours or more as a volunteer through My Turn Volunteer will make you eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine with approval from the clinic administrator, regardless of whether you're in a current priority group (e.g. age 65 or over) according to the state.

Visit the My Turn Volunteer site for more information.

California Health Corps

MEDICAL  

The state is seeking medical professionals "to ensure adequate staff for health care sites throughout California," and is looking for professionals like nurses (RN, LVN, CNA,) physicians (MD, DO, psychiatrist), paramedics and respiratory therapists. Paid positions are available.

You'll need to be at least 18 and have a valid California license for clinical practice, among other requirements. Visit the California Health Corps site for more information.

#CaliforniansForAll

REMOTE

#CaliforniansForAll is an initiative from the state's California Volunteers organization, connecting people in California to safe volunteer opportunities — some of which are remote. Sign up for #CaliforniansForAll here, and view current volunteer slots here (select "view only virtual opportunities" to see just the remote openings).

VaccinateCA

REMOTE

VaccinateCA is a COVID-19 vaccine appointment dashboard that shows vaccination locations near you, noting their current availability and how to schedule an appointment. It's entirely created and staffed by volunteers, and the organization says they're looking for volunteers to help them call health care providers across the state to update the dashboard. Sign up to volunteer with VaccinateCA here.

The American Red Cross

MEDICAL  |  NON-MEDICAL  |  REMOTE

The American Red Cross says its volunteers are now supporting local communities across 25 states in their efforts to distribute COVID-19 vaccines, including California. The organization says volunteer duties might range from setting up vaccination locations to on-site administrative work.

The Red Cross says volunteers with medical backgrounds might also be called on to help administer vaccinations if their state licenses permit them to do so. Browse opportunities and apply here.

Some remote volunteering opportunities are also available with the Red Cross — take a look at roles here by searching "NHQ" or "virtual" under "Apply Now."

Encore.org

MEDICAL  |  NON-MEDICAL  

The Bay Area nonprofit Encore.org, which focuses on intergenerational connection-building, is seeking retired medical professionals and volunteers of all ages to assist in the region's vaccination efforts.

Encore.org says its working with eight local community health centers "that serve a low-income and ethnically diverse population" in a drive to increase equity around vaccination — the same groups that has been disproportionately hit by the COVID virus and is now struggling to get equal access to the vaccine.

Retired medical professionals are being asked to volunteer up to 20 hours per week for the next six months. Non-medical volunteers of all ages are being asked to work four hours per week for a minimum of eight weeks. Find more information on Encore.org's site.

Volunteer Through Your County

San Francisco Vaccine Volunteering
NON-MEDICAL 

The city and county of San Francisco is looking for volunteers to help out at high-volume vaccination sites and community clinics. Duties include maintaining traffic flow, greeting and registering visitors and assisting staff with cleaning and stocking vaccine stations, and more. Volunteers should be able to stand and walk for at least four hours a shift. Complete the registration form and book a processing appointment (select "Emergency Volunteer Center.") You can also contact the Emergency Volunteer Center at DHR-EVC@sfgov.org or (415) 557-4979.

Alameda County Vaccine Volunteering
MEDICAL  |  NON-MEDICAL

Alameda County's spokesperson says the county is in the planning stages for establishing more vaccination sites as supply allows and "anticipate[s] the need for many vaccinators." Medically licensed individuals should sign up through the California Health Corps. The county also says they'll be needing non-licensed volunteers to provide logistical and administrative support, and interested folks can sign up here. Note: Alameda County says the influx of applicants means there might be delays in their volunteer vetting system and background-check process. Find more information under “Opportunities To Help” on Alameda's COVID-19 webpage.

San Mateo County Vaccine Volunteering
MEDICAL

San Mateo County is currently seeking volunteers with a medical license to aid its vaccination efforts. Sign up here.

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Marin County Vaccine Volunteering
MEDICAL

Marin County is currently seeking volunteers among licensed health care professionals (EMT, Paramedic, LVN, MA, RN, NP, PA, DO, MD, PharmD, Dentist, Pharm Tech) to help with vaccination clinics. You must be willing to commit to at least two shifts per month. More details and sign-up info is here.

Sonoma County Vaccine Volunteering
MEDICAL  |  REMOTE

Sonoma County is looking for licensed medical professionals interested in volunteering to help administer COVID-19 vaccines. Sign up is through the state's Disaster Healthcare Volunteers Site (register for the Sonoma County Medical Reserve Corps, not the Sonoma Co Unit.)

If you're interested in providing assistance remotely from home staffing the county's COVID-19 helpline, you can email Sonoma's Public Health Preparedness team at phpreparedness@sonoma-county.org for information and the application process.

Napa County Vaccine Volunteering
MEDICAL

Back in January, Napa County put out a call for licensed medical professionals to sign up to aid vaccination efforts. Sign up through Napa's Medical Reserve Corps.

Santa Clara County Vaccine Volunteering
NON MEDICAL

Santa Clara says there "currently is not a need for large amounts of additional volunteers at this time," but notes that it does have a need "for volunteers who can assist with additional languages and cultural competency, including Spanish, Vietnamese, Mandarin, Tagalog, Korean, Hindi, and Japanese among others." More information about signing up is here.

Contra Costa County Vaccine Volunteering
MEDICAL  |  NON-MEDICAL

Due to what it calls an "overwhelming response," Contra Costa County says it's temporarily closed volunteer applications and will begin accepting new applications in March 2021. Take a look at what kind of volunteers they'll be looking for on their website.

What Else Do You Want to Know?

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