CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) – While all adult Iowans are eligible to sign up for a COVID-19 vaccine starting Monday, the message from county health departments and pharmacies on vaccination appointments remains the same: If you make one, keep it.
“Every dose that we have right now is just like liquid gold,” Heather Meador, of Linn County Public Health, said.
Iowans 16 and older are now able to receive the Pfizer vaccine, and those 18 and older will be given either the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
With shots in short supply and demand still high, some people have put their names on multiple waitlists or made multiple appointments to see which option delivers them their first dose the earliest.
Both Meador and Sam Jarvis of Johnson County Public Health said missed appointments have not been a huge problem in their departments. But, they added, no-shows happen more than they should, especially with doses continuing to be so scarce.
“Once that vial is opened, the clock starts to tick, so we have six hours to use all that vaccine,” Meador said.
That leads to providers, like pharmacies and clinics, scrambling to find someone who can swing by on short notice to get their shot before it becomes unusable.
“When those open appointments or those logistical burdens arise, it does cause some problems for other folks on the back end of things, so if people would kindly go back and cancel those appointments, it’s greatly appreciated,” Jarvis said.
Meador said missed appointments could become a bigger problem once supply starts to catch up to demand and more people are already vaccinated, leaving fewer names on waitlists.
If enough doses go to waste, then shots could become even harder to come by in certain counties.
“Each county needs to use 80% of their dose allocation each week to be able to receive another full allocation the next week,” Meador said, referring to a requirement set by the state for dose distribution.
Craig Clark, the owner of Clark’s Pharmacy in Cedar Rapids, said they have not yet wasted a single dose of the COVID vaccine, currently administering about 30 first doses and 30 second doses three days a week. But, he said any time someone misses an appointment, it can make for a hectic afternoon. At one point, Clark said his pharmacy had more than 5,000 people on its vaccination waitlist.
“It’s not tough, but it’s very busy,” Clark said. “And luckily, everybody knows somebody, or they talked to somebody, so all the staff will throw out some names to us.”
In a statement to KCRG-TV9, Hy-Vee said it asks people to honor their appointments and only book one first-dose appointment to keep slots open for other people. It said if people do need to cancel their appointments at Hy-Vee, they should contact the pharmacy where they have the appointment they wish to cancel to do that.
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