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‘What are we supposed to do?’: Issues with scheduling 2nd vaccine dose appointments

Updated: Jan. 28, 2021 at 10:34 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - While Virginia’s vaccine coordinator says people will be able to get their second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, many people are having issues trying to schedule an appointment to make that possible.

NBC12 has received a number of emails from viewers stating there are no appointment times available when trying to schedule their second dose through the Vaccine Administration Management System (VAMS).

It has left many people concerned about whether they will actually be fully vaccinated.

“I’m nervous; I’m very nervous for my health,” said Christine Bastaich. “I’m nervous of what this is going to mean to me.”

Bastaich is a teacher for a school system in Central Virginia. She is one of many teachers who provide in-person instruction across her district. As a result, she received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday.

“It went perfectly well; went down to Arthur Ashe, it was a very well set up system,” Bastaich said. “Very happy about it.”

However, when she was sent the link to schedule her second dose appointment through the Vaccine Administration Management System, which was created by the CDC and is utilized by the Virginia Department of Health, issues arose.

“I logged on and I did the 20-mile radius, and no available slots were there,” Bastaich said. “So, I proceeded to do the 100-mile radius; every single slot is not available. Now I’m at a loss of what to do.”

Unfortunately, Bastaich is not alone. She said fellow coworkers are in the same boat and NBC12 has received numerous emails as well.

One woman said she is now 36+ days out from her first vaccine dose back in December, with no second dose appointment insight.

“What happens if I don’t get my second shot? Do I start back at square one?” Bastaich asked. “I was looking up the data, they don’t know; it’s too early to know how this is going to affect me.”

Bastaich added she has contacted the CDC, the Governor’s Office and VDH, but has not received any answers to this problem.

NBC12 also reached out to VDH and was simply told they are “committed to offering a second dose to everyone who wants one,” but that never answered the original question about the scheduling problems.

“We want to get in there, we want to be able to be fully vaccinated, working in our districts, working with our students, but if they’re going to leave us high and dry, what are we supposed to do?” Bastaich said.

On Thursday afternoon, a VDH spokeswoman said, “Additional doses of the COVID-19 vaccine are received in Virginia each day for first and second dose administration. People unable to schedule a second dose through an online portal should directly contact their Local Health Department or the provider who gave them the first dose.”

Additionally, NBC12 was provided with recent guidance from the CDC regarding vaccine administration and the length of time in-between doses.

“The second dose should be administered as close to the recommended interval as possible.” the CDC website states. “However, if it is not feasible to adhere to the recommended interval, the second dose of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines may be scheduled for administration up to 6 weeks (42 days) after the first dose. There are currently limited data on efficacy of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines administered beyond this window. If the second dose is administered beyond these intervals, there is no need to restart the series.”

The spokeswoman added she was looking into the scheduling issues with the VAMS website.

In addition to the VDH, NBC12 has requested insight into this issue from the Governor’s Office and the CDC. Messages were not immediately returned.

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