Iowa seniors say COVID-19 vaccine appointment ‘a luck of the draw’

Council Bluffs residents ages 65 and older compare it to a lottery
WOWT 6 News Live at 10
Published: Feb. 1, 2021 at 8:35 PM CST
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COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (WOWT) - Seniors in Pottawattamie County are struggling to find the best way to make an appointment to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Iowa started Phase 1B of its vaccination effort Monday. The state’s vaccine dashboard directs Iowans to local vaccine providers based on counties. From there, Iowans can call pharmacies for availability, but appointments fill up quickly--and some seniors feel like they’re left to fend for themselves.

“Good luck,” said Patti Midkiff of Carter Lake. She compared getting an appointment to playing the lottery.

Pottawattamie County is also asking for patience in its vaccine rollout. The county receives anywhere from 600 to 1000 doses each week. The county reports vaccine in the state is under a shortage order, which is issued by the Iowa Department of Public Health.

Midkiff says it was the luck of the draw when she least expected it. She tried getting a reservation at 6 a.m. Monday. In a last-ditch effort, she checked HyVee’s website again at 1 o’clock in the afternoon and finally got through for an appointment on the website.

“Play the lottery,” Midkiff said. “Get on there and sign up at three or four different places if you can, until you get an appointment.”

HyVee had to turn away Ron Anderson, who’s still on the search for an appointment in the county. The pharmacy told him to keep checking their website when an appointment time will open up. He’ll call other vaccination sites on the Iowa vaccine dashboard found online.

“You pretty much have to do it yourself,” Anderson said. “Go online, get all the information, and make as many phone calls as you can. Eventually, someone will tell you what to do.”

Each pharmacy is responsible for its own vaccinations when it receives doses from the state.

Lehan Pharmacy in Minden, Iowa said it was waiting for more vaccine Monday afternoon. When people call the pharmacy phone line, an automated voice tells callers it’s overwhelmed with demand, and it would update its phone line, website, and social media when it can add names to its COVID-19 vaccine waiting list.

Teri McElroy of Council Bluffs received her first dose Monday thanks to her persistent sister in Pennsylvania who helped lock in the appointment.

“Search everywhere you can,” McElroy said.

She says she gets to do the process all over again for her second dose. Whether it’s administered at HyVee or another pharmacy that offers the Moderna vaccine is a luck of the draw.

“You just have to call and if you luck out, it’s a luck of the draw,” McElroy said.

Some Iowans with doctors in Nebraska tell 6 News they’re getting turned away to be vaccinated. People in Iowa are finding out they need to get their vaccine in their own state.

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