Blog | Friday, December 31, 2021

COVID vaccines: Not so easy to get


We now know that being vaccinated is the best insurance against becoming seriously ill with Covid. We have 8 studies that show "real world" effectiveness of 2 dose mRNA vaccine against Omicron. A booster (3rd shot) offered effectiveness of 70-80%. These results are phenomenal.

Omicron is hitting us on the heels of Delta, which is still surging in the US. Kaiser Family Foundation reported 163,000 Covid-19 deaths could have been avoided since June 2021 if people were vaccinated. Data is clear that vaccinations will keep people out of the hospital and alive.

Now here is the rub. It is ridiculous that getting a (timely) vaccine is so difficult. Here is an example.

My housecleaners are from Brazil. A husband and wife both have great English and work hard, 6 days a week in high exposure environments. She has had Covid in the past. Both have been vaccinated X2. Since immunity from the vaccine wanes with time, it is important that they get a 3rd immunization (booster). I asked them if they had had a booster and both said "No, we don't know how to get it". Dr. Brayer to the rescue, "Let me help".

I then spent the next 45 minutes on my phone, trying to get them an appointment for a Covid vaccine.

I went to three different pharmacy websites and scrolled, clicked, read, listened to prompts that took a ridiculous amount of time. I was prompted to put in extensive information screen after screen just to get to a "book an appointment" button. Only to find out that location wasn't giving shots so continue scrolling to other vaccine sites that were unfortunately listed in different cities. One location had no appointments available at all. Each time I had to start over and enter information that took about 7-10 minutes, only to come to a screen that did not work. Finally, I was able to get them appointments on a Sunday at a RiteAid for the 2nd week in January, 2022, over a month away!

This is a ridiculous process and the most at risk members of our society will have difficulty accessing vaccinations online. One site that might help is: www.vaccines.gov. If you put in your zip code it gives information about vaccines near you. If you know someone who needs help, this is a good place to start.

Difficulty finding open vaccine sites, and the fact that you can't get a vaccine at your local Doctor office is a result of lack of staffing. The "Great Resignation" has hit nurses and health professionals and everyone is stressed trying to keep up with healthcare demand.

If you are reading this, it means you have internet savvy so use it to help someone secure a vaccine appointment. Vaccinations are the only way to get us on the other side of this pandemic.

This post originally appeared at Everything Health. Toni Brayer, MD, FACP, is an ACP Internist editorial board member who blogs at EverythingHealth, designed to address the rapid changes in science, medicine, health and healing in the 21st Century.