VAX Quest: “We’d like to help, but…”

For those anxiously following my quest to get vaccinated …

I was prematurely optimistic last night when I received a text message from my home county’s health department:

Vaccine eligibility expands tomorrow (Monday Jan 25) to all Marylanders age 65+.

Find a hospital, pharmacy, or local provider at covidvax.maryland.gov

Late last night (and very early this morning), I checked (and rechecked and rechecked…) the web sites of state & county public health departments, all hospitals within 50 miles, and the 2 authorized retailers (Walmart & Giant Food Stores) … .

Note: That’s not as easy as it sounds.

For openers, it’s a couple of dozen sites

Each “entity” has its own site, its own view of what the current gov’t policies are, and its own scheduling system (or, should I say, “non-scheduling system”).

Most of the scheduling systems are either overlaid on (and overloading) existing patient portals … or are being developed on the fly.

The majority of the sites ultimately just redirect visitors back to the state & county sites. 

Bottom line: no appointment slots and little indication that here would be any forthcoming any time soon.

The ray of hope: Most of the sites were still displaying last week’s info (‘e.g. “all appointments for the week of Jan. 18 are now filled”).  They clearly hadn’t been updated over the weekend, in advance of this week’s rush.

I’m sympathetic that these delivery entities just had the vaccination challenge dumped into their laps and are now trying their best to get up and running.

It’s easy to glean the frustration that the vaccinators have with the government rules, processes and support.

Here is how the frustration is well-stated by a world-class medical center in Baltimore:

While we are eager to be a vaccine resource for all of our patients and the public but, per state and district authorization, we are only permitted to vaccinate very specific groups of individuals.

The current vaccine supply provided to us is extremely small.

We are informed by state and district officials about anticipated vaccine delivery on a weekly basis.

This limits our ability to schedule new, first-dose appointments for more than a week at a time.

Our phone systems are overloaded with requests for appointments. We must keep our phone lines clear for people with urgent and acute medical care needs.

We are establishing a call center, and when we are able to schedule by phone we will communicate this to our patients and the public.

As supply is so small, we encourage our patients and community members to take advantage of any opportunity to schedule a vaccination appointment through other state and local health care organizations and agencies.

If you are offered the COVID-19 vaccine by another vaccination site, please take it.

You should not wait to get the vaccine from us.

Suffice it to say that this organization is well intended, deep in medical expertise and, as I said before, world-class.

============

P.S. I just got this from my home county’s health department (the one that texted last night that my group was live):

image

Ouch. My optimism has faded a bit.

Nothing like gov’t run healthcare during a pandemic.

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