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What you need to know about COVID-19 vaccine waiting lists

Published: Mar. 17, 2021 at 6:21 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Thousands of doses of the COVID-19 vaccine are being distributed daily, all by appointment only. But with that many appointments set daily, someone is bound to miss, so pharmacies have to find someone to fill that appointment.

“It’s kind of luck of the draw,” pharmacist Jake Siel said. “There are ten to 11 doses in a vile. Sometimes we have zero. Sometimes we have, I would say the average is two to three.”

But how do you get on that waitlist? The short answer: It depends on the pharmacy.

At Kohll’s, in order to do that, you need to register online. You then become one of nearly 40,000 people waiting for the vaccine.

In order to get in for a last-second appointment, you’ll have to meet certain requirements.

“Generally, we are looking for age,” Siel said. “We try our best to stay within the guidelines that are being set before us so, we do as old as we can. Proximity to us, good or bad, is a part of it. These patients do need to get to us before we close.”

But not every pharmacy operates the same way. Kholl’s says they will not accept calls or walk-ins; others do accept phone calls.

6 News own Maureen Kaufman spent some time making calls before she finally ended up on a list. She said she knows she may have to wait a bit, but she’s thankful to have the opportunity.

“It’s totally OK with me,” Kaufman said. “To know that I’m on a waitlist somewhere to get the Moderna is awesome.”

No matter where you go, all pharmacies say there is one goal by the end of the day.

“I haven’t thrown away a dose yet and I don’t plan to. So we try to find a home for every single dose,” Siel said.

6 News has heard back from some of the national chains on what their plans are if there are extra doses available. Here’s what they had to say:

  • WALGREENS: Walgreens is committed to ensuring every dose of COVID-19 vaccine is used. At this time, demand for vaccines outweighs supply, so excess doses are rare. The CDC provided guidance on excess doses with their announcement on the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program, which can be found here.”
  • WALMART: “Eligibility and Waste Avoidance Protocols have been developed in collaboration with state health departments with the shared goal of never letting a dose go to waste. Each vial contains multiple doses, and those doses are administered in accordance with CDC and FDA guidelines. In the event additional doses from an opened vial are available and there are no scheduled appointments, we turn to individuals, including our associates, who fall within that priority to administer the remaining doses. If no one is available in that priority, where states allow, we move to the next priority.”
  • HY-VEE: Should we have a cancellation or no-show for a COVID-19 vaccination appointment, our pharmacies either contact individuals scheduled for the following day to come in and get their vaccine early, or some of our pharmacies have a waitlist of individuals who qualify in each state but have not yet been able to get in for an appointment. They can work through those lists, also, to ensure the extra dose is administered.”

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