Seniors seeking vaccine: ‘It shouldn’t be this difficult’

VIDEO: Frustration over scheduling COVID-19 vaccine

When Phase 1B opened on Monday, it meant everyone 65 and older in Washington became eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. According to the Department of Health, there are more than 1.5 million people in the group.

Midge McCauley has been checking with her doctor at the polyclinic since early January, eager to get vaccinated. On Tuesday night she got an email that stated the phone lines would open at 8 a.m. on Wednesday to book vaccine appointments.

McCauley was ready. She even tried calling before 8 a.m. but no one answered.

Content Continues Below

“I waited until exactly 8 a.m., dialed the number and it rang busy,” said McCauley. After 40 minutes on hold, she says an operator answered and transferred the call. After waiting on hold another 30 minutes, “I get a recording that says ‘sorry all of our appointments are taken and we don’t know when we’re going to get more vaccine’,” she said.

Next she tried online. Then she branched out and tried Fred Hutch and UW Medicine. Still no luck landing an appointment.

“It’s very frustrating. If I didn’t have high blood pressure, I’d have it now,” said McCauley.

She says she needs to get vaccinated so she can travel for her job as a retail real estate consultant. She hasn’t been able to travel since March.

Now everyone 65 and older are competing for a limited number of vaccines. The Department of Health is asking people to be patient and to keep checking the providers in each county listed on its website.

In the first day UW Medicine opened its vaccine sign-ups, they registered 10,000 people.

Evergreen Health and CHI Franciscan quickly filled their appointments too.

The polyclinic told KIRO7:

“We are working under Washington State Department of Health guidelines and have received a very small number of COVID-19 vaccines to date. With limited vaccine supply, we are not able to meet the current demand of all our patients who are eligible for vaccination right now. We are encouraging patients to visit the Department of Health’s website to explore all their options, including the state’s mass vaccination sites slated to open in the coming weeks.”

McCauley said she would keep trying. Late Thursday she was able to get on the waitlist at Virginia Mason, but she still doesn’t have an appointment.

Governor Inslee announced a mass vaccination site in Seattle on Sunday that will be a joint effort between Amazon and Virginia Mason. The plan is to vaccinate 2,000 people on Sunday.