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CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8 | cbs8.com

San Diego pharmacies offering free COVID-19 vaccinations

San Diego retail pharmacies are offering COVID-19 vaccine for free but appointments are booking up fast.

SAN DIEGO — Frustration is mounting over people wanting to schedule an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccine. Between the county-run vaccine super stations and private retailers, there are plenty of sites offering the vaccine.

Outside of Petco Park, there was a line wrapped around the fence outside the vaccine super station. The people in the line are so-called “vaccine chasers”. They line up at the end of the night in hopes of receiving a vaccine from the unused doses from the day so they don't get thrown out. Not everyone in line is a healthcare worker or 65 and older but they do go to the most eligible. 

A spokesperson for the county says, “Vaccine providers are doing the right thing by getting shots in arms and adhering to the tier system best they can.”

Retail pharmacies are also offering vaccines to the public under the county’s criteria but those appointments are booked as well.

On Monday, President Biden released the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program for COVID-19 Vaccinations.

“A million doses will be allocated next week to those 6500 pharmacies,” Jeff Zients, White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator.

The federal government will start shipping vaccines directly to pharmacies starting February 11.

RELATED: More COVID vaccines will soon be going to pharmacies nationwide

CVS will start administering COVID-19 vaccines on February 12 in eleven of its pharmacies in California, including, Carlsbad, Chula Vista and San Diego. Nearly 81,900 doses are expected to be administered. You must register with CVS ahead of time and you can start booking an appointment on February 11. They moved the date back a day to ensure they have supply. 

Albertsons/Vons, Kroger/Ralph’s already offer free vaccines to the public under the county criteria.

Jim Matzas, 84, scheduled an appointment by phone at Ralph’s on Palomar in Chula Vista and was able to get an appointment within six days.

“I feel so fortunate that everything went so smooth for me. One phone call and within 5 minutes I had my appointment,” said Matzas.

That was on January 23. Now, when you go to the grocer pharmacy websites you are not able to book an appointment except at Albertsons in Ramona where there is a vaccine clinic scheduled for Friday at 1459 Main Street Ramona, Ca. Another clinic is scheduled at Vons in Torrey Highlands at 7895 Highland Village Place San Diego, CA 92129 on Saturday. Albertsons says appointments will be available Tuesday night.

Both companies say appointments are based on vaccine availability.

The county has four super stations and a fifth will be opened soon. Local health officials hope to have 12,000 vaccinations per day and 25,000 by the end of February.

To find available COVID-19 vaccines in your area click here.

RELATED: Here's how San Diego's senior citizens can navigate the vaccine appointment process