The Journal Gazette
Tuesday, March 02, 2021 10:41 pm

Scheduling vaccine proves challenging

LISA GREEN | The Journal Gazette

A news alert before noon today said individuals as young as 55 could sign up for a COVID-19 vaccine, so after three Zoom meetings for work, I decided I would.

Scheduling at a nearby pharmacy seemed like a good option because there are a few within five to seven minutes of where I live.

I was breezing through the closest one's online registration and selected this Friday about 2:30 p.m. for the first appointment. I was surprised to find such an immediate opening; I was a bit fearful and a bit relieved. The next step involved choosing from listed available times my second appointment four weeks later -- April 2. I thought about the significance of being able to say I had my final COVID shot on what many of us celebrate as Good Friday.

But in the short time it took to click through to finalize registration, a notification popped up indicating the second time slot selected was no longer available and to pick another. When I tried, the site showed no second date availability even five weeks out from when I could get my first shot on Friday. Normally sites give you at least a few minutes to finalize online information before you lose a selected spot, so that didn't seem to make sense.

I fiddled around online a bit more, checking a couple of other sites for availability and even going back to the first I tried. With one site, I'd have to provide basic information and they would contact me. I didn't like that option. I'd prefer to schedule a specific time and date at least for the initial shot, and preferably both doses, assuming the new one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine wasn't an immediate option.

Information on the sites suggested calling 211 if you had problems scheduling online. Within seconds of dialing, a congenial lady who said her name was Laura was on the line. 

She asked if I was part of the new age group now being allowed to sign up and after my confirmation said "that's really wreaked havoc with the system today."

She promised she would keep me on the line -- instead of putting me on hold at any time -- as we worked through the process of my providing the required information. Putting people on hold, she said, was leading to many dropped calls.

She asked if I was comfortable with that. I said fine.

And then suddenly, the call dropped.

I felt a bit frustrated at this point, but instead of waiting until the next day, I called 211 again about an hour later and talked to someone who identified herself as Mona; she was just as cordial as Laura.

Mona confirmed my eligibility and shared information on mass vaccination clinics scheduled this weekend where people could get the one-shot J&J product. One shot is certainly appealing, but driving 90 minutes to two hours to any of the three locations she mentioned wasn't.

The earliest available date for Parkview Mirro Center, about 12 minutes from me in Fort Wayne, was March 27. But I could get in a week sooner at Memorial Coliseum, a 15-minute drive.

I'm on the schedule for March 19.

This story has been corrected.

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