HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Huntsville Hospital says they have nearly 40,000 people waiting to get the COVID-19 vaccine. While the mass vaccination effort at John Hunt Park is helping to knock that number down, it could be adding to frustration for certain groups in waiting.
When signing up for a COVID-19 vaccine online through Huntsville Hospital Systems, you choose the category that applies to you and are put on an appointment waitlist.
“Meaning healthcare worker, essential worker, 75 and up, 65 to 74 or in the education field,” explains Huntsville Hospital Senior Vice President of Operations Tracy Doughty.
After being added to the waitlist, a team member will give you a call to schedule an appointment. That’s where the frustration comes in for some… waiting weeks with no update.
“We have close to 40 thousand requests and we are working through those as fast as we possibly can,” says Doughty.
Huntsville Hospital says they are vaccinating about 1,000 people a day, but this week Monday through Friday they are participating in a mass vaccination effort.
“So this week we are instructed to do as many as we can from each of the buckets,” says Doughty.
While the effort adds an extra 1,000 shots per day it could also be adding confusion as to how people in some phases are getting shots ahead of others.
“So in theory, somebody could have signed up Sunday and been the first teacher to sign up but somebody three weeks ago that’s 75 and up… We haven’t called them yet. Because that bucket has 10 thousand people, does that make sense?” says Doughty.
This only applies for appointments through Huntsville Hospital. But Dr. Karen Landers with the Alabama Department of Public Health says vaccine availability continues to be a challenge everywhere.
“Every dose we have right now allocated to us is spoken for so we are certainly moving up and moving in the right direction but also ensuring we have as much equity as possible relating to the vaccine and that we can give that second dose,” says Doughty.
After this week Huntsville Hospital systems will go back to a first come first serve basis out of the 75 and up category.
As for ADPH, they are out of first dose appointments at county health departments for the month of February but encourage people to check back on a regular basis.