CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - After CVS announced it will begin administering coronavirus vaccines to Virginians ages 65 and older on Friday, February 12, many people were left wondering why they don’t qualify for these vaccinations even though they’re at high risk.
“Back in June, I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, which is an autoimmune disorder. I have been on medication that suppresses my immune system to some degree,” Charlottesville resident Stan Walker said.
After vaccine appointments opened on CVS’s website Tuesday for people who met the age requirement and had pre-registered with their local health department, folks like Walker struggled to find an appointment for his wife who is 66-years-old.
“She did not get an appointment this first time around. Of course tomorrow morning we’re going to try again now,” Walker said Wednesday, Feb. 10.
Walker is excluded from getting the vaccine through the pharmacy chain because he is 63.
“People who are immunocompromised or have other high-risk conditions that increase their chance of hospitalization or death should be allowed to make appointments,” he said.
“We asked CVS to limit it to 65 and up because when you add the 16 to 64 with underlying conditions, that does greatly increase the number of people who would be eligible to vaccinate through CVS,” Virginia’s state vaccine coordinator Dr. Danny Avula said. “The data is clear that 65 and up is really your highest risk for hospitalization and death.”
Even though slots have filled up quickly, UVA Infectious Disease Doctor Taison Bell was able to secure an appointment for his mother-in-law at midnight.
“I went to the website, and lo-and-behold I saw these appointments. Before they were not available. So, I went ahead and signed up. After I signed her up, I checked again and it was 14 minutes later, so it was 12:14 in the morning and all the slots were gone,” Bell said. “This vaccine effort is targeted from CVS to those who are 65 and above, so why would it open up at midnight if it’s targeting that age group?”
A spokesperson for CVS said appointments are added to the website when they receive more doses. The company encourages people to check the site frequently to see if an appointment becomes available. The system will open to any Virginian who is 65 and older on Thursday, Feb. 11.