RICHMOND, Va (WRIC) — CVS has pushed their vaccination start date back twice, with appointments now starting on Friday for those 65 and older. This has caused a lot of confusion for those trying to register for an appointment.
CVS originally told 8News that vaccine sign-up for those 65 and older would start Thursday. However, the Virginia Department of Health asked the pharmacy to open their appointment registration early to those who have already pre-registered with their local health department.
Those 65 and older who did not pre-register for a vaccine with their local health district can begin making appointments through the CVS website on Thursday.
CVS is receiving 26,000 doses per week through the Federal Retail Pharmacy Partnership, according to VDH. Appointments will continue to open up as shots are available.
In a tele-press briefing Tuesday, Dr. Danny Avula, said each local health department has a list of people who pre-registered for their vaccine, either based on their Phase 1b essential worker category, age or underlying health conditions.
The state hoped to sort that list by those 65 and older, and send it to CVS so the pharmacy could enroll those pre-registered patients for appointments before those who did not pre-register.
However, Avula said CVS was not able to accommodate this. He said because of technological challenges, CVS could not synchronize the state’s pre-registration list with the CVS appointment system.
As a compromise, CVS agreed to open its appointment scheduler two days early, on Tuesday, giving health departments time to make appointments on behalf of their pre-registered patients. However, this scheduler did not open exclusively to health departments. The system opened to anyone, whcih caused appointments to go fast, Avula said.
Those signing up for an appointment will be presented with a questionnaire asking if they are 65 or older and if they have pre-registered through their local health department.
However, Avula said even with this questionnaire, CVS cannot confirm a patient has actually pre-registered with their local health department.
Avula said although this was not what the state had asked for, it does confirm the vaccines will go to a population which needs it. “Not an ideal rollout, but at the end of the day, we are thankful that it’s a way to pull down more vaccine into Virginia,” he said.
Because she was not aware of what time CVS would open registration, Midlothian resident Anita Dahlquist told 8News she stayed up most of the night Monday waiting for registration to open.
At 6:15 a.m. Tuesday, she was able to register herself and her husband, Roy Dahlquist, for both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, but said others weren’t as lucky.
“I found out a friend of mine tried to log on at 6:30 a.m. and it was all full. So, I think in about 15 minutes or so it was done,” Dahlquist said.
Dahlquist said she and her husband are feeling ‘joy beyond measure’.
“We were very pleased this morning at 20 minutes after 6 to get the information that we were approved for an appointment,” R. Dahlquist said.
The limited supply of the vaccine caused CVS appointments to fill quickly Tuesday.
8News has asked CVS why they haven’t opened registration to those with underlying health conditions or disabilities under Phase 1b. The company said they are following guidance from the Virginia Department of Health.
Dr. Avula also said Tuesday VDH requested that CVS not vaccinate people with underlying health conditions and disabilities because the data shows those 65 and older are at higher risk of contracting the virus.
He said if you add people with underlying health conditions into that group, it would greatly the number of people who would be eligible.
Dr. Avula said those under 65 with underlying health conditions should continue to pre-register through their local health department.