LOS ANGELES — It's been almost a year since Gabby Martinez's uncle died from COVID-19. On Thursday, the 41-year-old held her CDC vaccine card at Cal State L.A., along with her 28-year-old cousin Simone Rivadeneira.
The cousins saw a tweet Wednesday night from the state welcoming any adult over 18 to get a Johnson & Johnson vaccine at the mass vaccination site located at the university.
Martinez and Rivadeneira jumped at the chance to protect themselves from the virus that claimed one of their loved ones.
"We got here at 7 a.m. We didn't make an appointment, and we decided to cross our fingers to get vaccines," Martinez said.
The site supposedly had so many extra unused doses available from previous days that walk-ins would not need an appointment. When Martinez and Rivadeneira arrived Thursday morning, they said that wasn't the case.
"[The site workers] were prioritizing people with appointments," Rivadeneira said.
"[Workers] kept saying please make an appointment, but we're not eligible to make an appointment," Martinez added. "So we just decided to tough it out and see what happens."
They waited three hours before coming out with a sore arm and band-aids after getting their dose of the J&J vaccine.
Brittany Crawford, on the other hand, was not as lucky.
The 31-year-old traveled from Hawthorne, determined to get an early dose.
"I saw the opportunity to get vaccinated three weeks earlier [than my appointment], and I decided to take it," she said.
By the time she arrived at the CSULA campus around 9 a.m., people without appointments were already being turned away.
"It took a long time for me to get down there, and I went through about half an hour of bumper to bumper traffic for [the site] to tell me they couldn't help me," Crawford said.
On Thursday afternoon, the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services, OES for short, sent out a tweet confirming CSULA was unable to accommodate walk-ins for the rest of the day.
It was disappointing for Crawford, who returned home with nothing to show for her time wasted.
"I just want to get back to my life, and the only way we can do that is if everyone is vaccinated," she said.
A privilege Rivadeneira and Martinez said they are excited to have.
"I just got married. I'm hoping to go on a honeymoon soon," Martinez said.