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Pottawattamie County pharmacies overwhelmed by vaccine sign-up

As frustrations over the vaccine rollout continue in Iowa, local pharmacies are working to manage people’s expectations as well as trying to get them the shot.
Published: Feb. 9, 2021 at 10:45 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - As frustrations over the vaccine rollout continue in Iowa, local pharmacies are working to manage people’s expectations as well as trying to get them the shot.

“I kid you not, I came in one morning and it was phone call after phone call, I couldn’t do anything else,” said Sheryl Pfeiler, Pharmacist, Union LTC Pharmacy, in Council Bluffs.

Seniors in Iowa have been asking to register for the COVID vaccine through individual pharmacies and for the Union LTD Pharmacy, it’s been overwhelming.

“Originally we were taking all those calls but as you can imagine with a small staff fielding all those phone calls,” said Pfeiler.

Noting it just wasn’t manageable so they turned people to their voicemail system and started making a list.

“We have probably over 400 people on that list and our vaccine shipments have been small so far,” said Pfeiler

They’ve been receiving 50 doses of the Moderna vaccine a week.

“We’ve been able to do 50 a week. We’re hoping to do more but that all depends on how many are sent this way county wise,” said Pfeiler.

And with no guarantees of that number going up, they stopped adding to their waitlist. Concerned about giving people false hope.

“We had to change our voicemail to say we weren’t taking calls anymore and to try back the second week of March,” said Pfeiler.

6 News stopped in at the Hy-Vee as well, where they’re also getting 50 doses a week. One pharmacist said the shots were gone within 30 minutes.

As far as planning goes, neither pharmacy knows how many doses they’re getting until the week it’s shipped.

“We can’t schedule anyone until we have the vaccine in hand because I don’t want to be making those phone calls and getting people’s hopes up and then not have the vaccine to give them,” said Pfeiler.

Noting a little more heads up would go a long way.

“Knowing that we were going to get 70 next week, 100 next week, 50 next week. Knowing what those numbers were going to look like would help us prepare the public for their wait time and help with the frustration a lot I think,” said Pfeiler.

6 News reached out to both the county and state health departments to try and better understand how many doses of the vaccine Pottawattamie is getting each week and how it’s being distributed. We will update the story when we hear back.

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