Dr. Avula admits CVS Health vaccine rollout not ideal; more vaccines expected soon

Dr. Avula admits CVS Health vaccine rollout not ideal; more vaccines expected soon

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - The Virginia Health Department says a helping hand in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout did just the opposite but will get back on track.

Tuesday’s CVS Health vaccine rollout was not ideal.

Even the state’s vaccine coordinator, Dr. Danny Avula, admitted that on a call Tuesday afternoon.

NBC12 also learned the CVS vaccine deal is only for seniors, not front-line workers and others eligible in group 1B.

“I am extremely frustrated. My husband and I are both in our 70s and we have registered with Virginia Department of Health,” said Janice McMillan, a Chesterfield County resident.

McMillan like others is upset with another hiccup in the push to get COVID-19 vaccines into arms.

“So I said alright I’ll stay up until 12:01 and then I’ll get up through the night if I need to to be there when it opens,” said McMillan.

She had no luck after mixed messages about when and who could sign up for vaccine at the select CVS Pharmacy locations across the state including in Richmond, Midlothian and Mechanicsville.

The pharmacy chain says the state asked them to open the scheduling system early for those who pre-registered for vaccination through their local department of health. But their systems aren’t talking to each other so it became a free-for-all.

“That sent me into panic mode as you can imagine, so trying to play catch up at that point and of course there were no appointments left,” said Chip Spitzer, who lives in Richmond.

All CVS Health vaccine appointments for this week are now taken. The company said they were filled quickly due to the limited supply of the vaccine.

NBC12 has also learned additional appointments will open as CVS receives more doses next week.

“The problem for me is that there are twists and turns that we know nothing about and in the absence of good information or one voice talking to us about what could be done and should be done,” said Spitzer.

Beginning Thursday, anyone over the age of 65, regardless of whether they have pre-registered with their local health department, will be able to look for appointments.

That leaves people like Spitzer and McMillian still on the hunt for the vaccine.

“I’m really frustrated and quite angry about how this rollout in general has gone and particularly with how this CVS thing has gone,” said Spitzer.

Vaccinations, the actual shots in arms, begin on Friday.

That’s delayed by one day due to a shipping issue. CVS Health will get 26,000 vaccine doses each week for Virginia which increases the state’s vaccine supply by 20%.

Participating CVS Pharmacies who are in communities throughout Virginia include:

  • Abingdon
  • Alexandria
  • Arlington
  • Bedford
  • Blacksburg
  • Charlottesville
  • Chatham
  • Chesapeake
  • Danville
  • Dublin
  • Fairfax
  • Fredericksburg
  • Gainesville
  • Hampton
  • Harrisonburg
  • Leesburg
  • Lynchburg
  • Martinsville
  • Mechanicsville
  • Midlothian
  • Newport News
  • Norfolk
  • Portsmouth
  • Richmond
  • Roanoke
  • Rocky mount
  • Stafford
  • Suffolk
  • Virginia beach
  • Warrenton
  • Williamsburg
  • Winchester
  • Woodstock

Specific pharmacies are not being released yet, and more CVS locations will offer the vaccine when supply is available.

Patients must register in advance at CVS.com or through the CVS Pharmacy app, and people without online access can contact CVS customer service at 1-800-746-7287.

To get the vaccine, you must have an appointment. Walk-ins will not be given the vaccine.

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