False claims in texts, emails led to misuse of CA COVID-19 vaccine codes intended for those in need

Local news

In Los Angeles, the rumor spread like wildfire through group texts and email chains: The government was testing the appointment system at a new COVID-19 vaccination site at Cal State L.A., and you could help by using a special access code to sign up for a shot.

In the Bay Area, the gossip took a slightly different form: Doses at the Oakland Coliseum were about to expire, and you could do your part by making an appointment, again, with a special access code.

The problem, of course, was that none of this was true. There were no expiring doses at the Oakland Coliseum earmarked for use with special codes, and the Cal State L.A. site had no appointment testing program.

The access codes ping-ponging across two of California’s largest metropolitan areas were actually a key part of a program designed to help get lifesaving COVID-19 vaccines into California neighborhoods hit hardest by the pandemic. Intended to address inequities in the distribution of the vaccine, the program instead was being misused — often unwittingly — by people far outside the intended communities.

Read the full story on LATimes.com.

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