ROANOKE, Va. – Jack Guilliams has spent the first few weeks of 2021 trying to sign up for a COVID-19 vaccine to no avail.
Despite falling into the age group for Phase 1b, he was placed on the waiting list through his local health department.
“I was sitting at home last Wednesday and I got a phone call from CVS Pharmacy,” explained Guilliams. “The lady says, ‘We’ve got a COVID vaccine available, are you free to come in?’ I said, ‘Yeah!’”
After arriving at CVS, he was given the Moderna vaccine but wasn’t scheduled for a second dose.
The Virginia Department of Health advised him that his vaccination site -- which in his case was a Roanoke CVS -- should schedule his second dose within four weeks. As of Wednesday, that has not happened.
“They just basically told me to go to their website,” stated Guilliams.
In an emailed response on Wednesday, Amy Thibault with CVS said “because he was called by a local store team from a waiting list, and did not register online, he is not guaranteed a second dose. (When you book online you must book both first and second doses - similar to booking a round trip airline ticket). The patient should continue to check CVS.com and look for available appointments at his vaccination store - there is an option to select that you are only looking for a second dose.”
“That’s an issue that needs to be addressed by CVS corporate. The Virginia Department of Health needs to address that too,” expressed Guilliams.
WSLS 10 News took his situation to VDH officials who simply suggest he call CVS. He has done that several times.
Guilliams fears this process will exceed the four-week window between first and second dose.
VDH officials said in an email “although there are currently limited data on how much protection from COVID-19 there is if vaccine doses are given more than six weeks apart, if the second dose has to be given more than six weeks after the first dose, the vaccine series does NOT need to be restarted.”
Ruth Laite, 84, has also struggled with booking a vaccine appointment. With more options available now through pharmacies, Laite tried CVS after no luck with her local health department.
“I tried on the hour by the hour. It’s been a couple of weeks. I stayed up until midnight. I figured a lot of people are in bed by then,” said Laite.
In addition to CVS, which began receiving approximately 26,000 vaccine doses last week through the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program for COVID-19 Vaccination, the newly added pharmacies include Walgreens, Walmart, Kroger, Safeway, Food Lion, Giant Food, Food City and a network of multiple independent community pharmacies.
These pharmacy networks will share the additional 26,000 doses.