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In Search of the Shot
(KHN illustration; Getty Images)
First-Person Tales

In Search of the Shot

Too little covid vaccine and too great a demand: That’s what KHN readers from around the country detail in their often exasperating quest to snag a shot, although they are often clearly eligible under their local guidelines and priority system. Public health officials say the supply is growing and will meet demand in several months, but, for now, readers’ experiences show how access is limited. Some savvy readers report no problem getting in line for the vaccine, but others say that balky application processes and lack of information have stymied their efforts. Their unedited reports are a good snapshot of the mixed situation around the country.

— Feb. 25 —

I parent a grandchild. I worked in IT for 10 years, so understand its blessings and challenges. Our state online sign-up system is very poorly designed, and our vaccine allotment from the state is miniscule. (Not Seattle area, of course!) Communication of availability is practically nonexistent. I have been qualified thru 1b since mid-Jan. I am listed in every possible system including Kaiser, my provider. I’ve tried calling help phone numbers at all hours, waited on hold for hours, dropped unceremoniously. I’ve even stood in line at a local hospital where they might have vaccine if appts don’t show up, each time to no avail. 

Last week some enterprising young techies designed an easy-to-follow website that collects and coordinates every vaccine location, sign-up site in the state and lists availability. I live 2 miles from a major drive-up site. 15-20 times daily I use that new website, and NOT ONCE has there been ANY availability within 50 miles! Lastly, Kaiser is no help — sending us to the awful state site. My entire CO family, 3 younger sisters, 79 yr-old stepmom and 94 yr-old dad in Mem Care have all received 2nd shots. First time I am sorry to live in WA. Sigh.

— 73-year-old
Vancouver, Washington

I’m 62, just under the 65+ limit. I have stage 3C recurrent male breast cancer, Type 2 diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure. One would think that is enough to get a shot. I need to get the vaccine soon so that I can start 6 months of chemotherapy and radiation, during which I’ve been told the vaccine probably won’t be effective. I thought I was lucky working part-time for a college as a baseball coach, which puts me in an eligible category, but now the severe weather is slowing down delivery of vaccine even more. I have a daughter who is the city emergency manager where one of the super-pods are located. One would think the little bit of inside info I get would help me get the shot, but no. So, I sit at my computer with all of the chain drugstore’s websites open, with Othela’s website open, with Kaiser’s open, and with Hoag’s open. I think I’lI check all of the supermarkets and small local pharmacies too. I check my email regularly to see if I’ve been given an appointment. I’m not giving up, but soon I will need to start chemo.

— Laguna Woods, California

— Feb. 24 —

I have been trying for weeks. I’m 77 with diabetes and can’t get an appointment. I have signed up wherever they let me and check sites multiple times a day. This is so frustrating and I’m ashamed to say the effort makes me cry. I want to give up. I’m so afraid of getting covid and dying before I can get the vaccine. I live alone. It’s difficult wanting so bad, knowing it’s out there and will save your life but you can’t get access.

— Chicago

I had been stressed and worried for almost a year. After reading about Wuhan in the NYT I knew we were all in for trouble. My husband is a healthcare provider in the beautiful Outer Banks in North Carolina and I also work in his office. My husband absolutely refused to close his practice even though the OBX was literally flooded with tourists escaping COVID-19 restrictions. Thankfully, with very strict masking and cleaning protocols no one in our office got sick. Some of our patients were not as fortunate. As soon as our state started shipping the vaccine to local health departments, I contacted the county COVID hotline and emailed the public health director. Even though we are independent from the local hospital, we were vaccinated in January and received the Moderna booster in February. I feel like a huge weight is off of my shoulders and I no longer fear my husband will not make it to retirement in a few years. Dare County Public Health Director, Dr. Sheila Davis, will have my eternal gratitude for her tireless work educating the public and efficiently vaccinating our county.

— 59-year-old
Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina

Fresno County has done a wonderful job! I did spend a day checking my computer for appointments to open up! Got our shots at the fairgrounds. They then scheduled the next shot for same time three weeks later! Brilliant! I’m 66 and my husband is 67.

— Fresno, California

— Feb. 22 —

I had ovarian cancer, an autoimmune disease and or comorbities. I registered in my state, never heard anything. I have been trying on the local pharmacy site. Every day it says no appointments available. My mother is 73 with breathing issues, has tried the same and nothing. My middle aged neighbor with no health issues just received her second vaccine. She works for federal agency and said it is supposed to be for those going into office, but she doesn’t go it (which she acknowledged) but said she was allowed to take advantage of it, so she did. I don’t begrudge federal workers getting it, but I think it should have been limited to essential workers and agency heads.

— 48-year-old

I am 83 years old, among those most-at-risk of death from Covid, and I have not touched another human being since March 14, 2020, when I left my tennis friends in Florida and returned home to Silver Spring, MD. I wear a mask, isolate and practice frequent hand-washing. But when vaccines were first offered in MD in December, I was shocked to find that a 100-year-old person with co-morbidities could not get a shot under the prioritization rules at the time. Calls to my State Senator were met with ain’t-that-too bad jokes! When, after weeks and much criticism, the CDC changed recommendations to include over-75s, I was able, after much calling around, to get an appointment by going over-50-miles away from my home location. I am a Kaiser Permanente member, and KP had been telling people that registering on its Website was the best way to help them get in touch when we qualified. I have been so-registered for decades, but had heard nothing. KP’s Website info seemed to change daily, and at one point they had said that they were going to finish vaccinating 1A before 1B (my group, in which over-75 was first). Finally, KP phoned me to make an appointment, and I canceled the other one because KP knows me, has all my records, and could best deal with it if I had a reaction. I finally got Pfizer shot 1 on Feb 2 (delayed a few days by snow) and get the follow-up next week. I feel very, very lucky that there was a shot, to have gotten a shot, and to have had two options, but don’t think that ignoring age was the right approach from the CDC to begin with, or from the State of Maryland, for that matter. 

— 83-year old
Silver Spring, Maryland

I feel like the successes get no love. I am 73, waited patiently for the opportunity to open up, and jumped on my computer that morning. I had to drive a ways (a pleasant diversion) but when I got there (Santa Cruz, CA. Summit Healthcare), they were organized, on time, very polite and got the job done. I could not be more pleased. Getting #2 on 3/9/21.

— 73-year-old
San Mateo, California

I signed up for the vaccine in Virginia early Jan. via the Virginia Dept. of Health. I did not receive any verification or further information from VDH until, believe it not, Tuesday of this week, Feb. 16. That message said my name was received, please be patient, it may take “weeks and months.” I am eligible through my interaction with patients as an employee of a specialty pharmacy (1a), and I am also eligible in some Virginia counties (though not mine of Warren) because I am HIV+ (1b). Daily I go at noon when the Warren Co. Health Dept. vaccine sign up refreshes, but I have not been able to get an appointment. Right now the page says they are only vaccinating for 2nd doses. They have not had 1st doses available since Feb. 12, a week ago. On average, the county has about 2 days a week they can do 1st doses; otherwise, they are just booking 2nd doses. There is no other information, nor is there any other way to contact anybody involved here. I have called all the numbers listed but they just say they are “experiencing high volume” and hang up on me. So I just go everyday around noon and refresh the page and see if they are taking new appointments. The few days they are, my browser locks up and by the time I can see the page, it says the doses are full. I am also a patient at the Infectious Disease clinic in Georgetown, Washington, D.C., and have emailed my doctor there. But despite their having doses, she cannot give me any because I am NOT a D.C. resident. That is frustrating on so many levels. Makes me feel if I’d gone to a VA doctor for my HIV I may have gotten a vaccine by now. What is the point really of being part of that clinic if they cannot help me in this time of crisis? So that sums it up.

— 48-year-old
Linden, Virginia

— Feb. 19 —

On February 12, I read about CVS offering COVID vaccinations at selected pharmacies in certain states. I immediately jumped onto their website and was able to secure appointments for myself and my 99-year-old father. We got our first dose three days later at a nearby CVS and have our appointments for the second dose. The entire process was simple and relatively speedy. My dad would have been content to wait for the vaccine, but the opportunity availed itself because I was prepared to get him registered as soon as I found out about CVS offering appointments. This may seem obvious to some, but if you are in a position to help elderly family members and friends who cannot access the Internet or are uncomfortable navigating websites and registration processes, get their insurance information, driver’s license or state-issued ID number and last 4 digits of their SSN so you are prepared to make the appointment on their behalf. This information may or may not be required, depending on which organization you are contacting, but if it is, you’ll be ready.

— 66-year-old
San Ramon, California

I signed up as a 1A in Ely Minnesota on 1/29/21 and have not yet received a vaccine while many other people here have called and told to come in. Vaccine administration appears to be following a “who you know” rollout here in Ely. My question is, who is monitoring this and why are essential workers overlooked while young folks without comorbid conditions are able to get them?

— 52-years-old
Ely, Minnesota

No getting back to me. All slots are full, no email back to confirm anything.

— 79-year-old
Flint, Texas

The JAB Bingo Game 2021: You do need to have your Medicare number, but in most cases, you won’t have to provide your Social Security number or Insurance Group number, but bet your last nickel, you will need to give them the RX Bin number, which you will find on the backside of the card you misplaced in your wallet or purse. NOW as a brilliant American with all your multidisciplinary skills, you approach this game with all the talents of Monopoly. THE TRICK: you need as many web sites as possible to even win, so keep thinking as you enter the first step: Find WHO HAS SUPPLY First, not knowing which clinical provider or major pharmacy you may be located within 50+ miles of, will not cost you points, but think of the local grocery store and start there. While holding your various insurance cards, see if you can recall a pharmacy near the frozen food section? THEN, if you have been able to register for or get on the list or even maybe to be so lucky as to have secured an appointment for THE JAB, then you know you are on the way to winning. YOU are going to get that appointment, and you will get into a line, and there will be supply at your local pharmacy or grocery store, but you have to keep playing. GET ON AS MANY LISTS AS YOU CAN because the only way, you’re going to Win at JAB BINGO, is to play the new game in town. 

I got my first JAB, and it only took being on 4 lists, one cancellation, and a reschedule! BINGO! If all else fails: Just call — tell them you’re a senior without a computer!

— 66-year-old
Huron, Ohio

— Feb. 18 —

Not being a member of myHealth Stanford, I created an account and scheduled an appt. for mid-March. I then found a county agency where I was able to make a “request” for an appt on 2/8. I didn’t get confirmation for that, so I emailed them on 2/8 inquiring about it, but went anyway and received a shot. That night I got an email saying they were looking into my request and would get back to me. At 11:02pm 2/11, I received an email that I was confirmed for a shot on 2/12 at 3:00pm. Obviously, I did not go to get another shot. After I received my first shot, I went back to the Stanford site to cancel my appt., but they have no record of me having an account with them. Let’s see what happens when I go to get my second dose. Does not inspire confidence in our systems.

— 65-year-old
East Palo Alto, California

Initially it was crazy trying to get a shot anywhere in the Galveston/Houston area. On January 28th the Galveston County Health District and the UTMB health system opened an online registration system. It was clean and easy. We both received our shots within 2 weeks after registering. The shot locations were well organized and efficient.

— 67-year-old
Texas City, Texas

My wife and I are 70 and 75 (King County Phase 1B1). We have been trying since first availability was announced to book an appt. without success. Almost as frustrating is the poor quality of information available and clumsy websites at Federal, State, local, and provider level. It would greatly improve the delivery of health care if availability information was more centralized, and finding appointments involved LESS personal choice as to location. By this I mean allow a search within 5 miles of a zip code instead of searching individual providers.

— 70-year-old
Seattle, Washington

Site gets overwhelmed, totally freezes — jams, then you’re out of luck. Period. There must be a better way!! I’m trying to get the appointment for my 97-year-old mother in law. I’ve submitted my concerns, but to no avail.

— Washington

At 72, I received my first shot of the Moderna vaccine on 2/12/2021 and coincidentally got a call from the VA on the same day to come in for a shot. At 68 my wife has been unable to schedule her shot. Interesting I had a choice of Pfizer or Moderna. Chose Moderna because there was no mixing and less chance of spoilage with a lower refrigeration temperature. Received shot at Safeway/Kroger and scheduled second shot within an hour at same time & location for March 12.

— Green Valley, Arizona

I am a foreign resident in Ecuador 10 years. I speak Spanish and know the ropes but as far as I can tell, there is no provision made at all for taxpaying U.S. residents outside the U.S. I have talked with a State Dept employee acquaintance who runs the health unit at the U.S. Embassy in Quito — she knows nothing. She did tell me all offices are virtual for State Dept offices around the world! Now what? My home state is Oregon.

— 80-year-old
Talent, Oregon

I received my first dose after weeks of trying. Now I am getting various procedures on how to get the second dose. I am told to contact the Austin Public Health Dept, that doesn’t work. Then I am told to get it wherever I can, trying that doesn’t work because many other places said no we only give second dose to the people we gave first dose to. Emails aren’t working, phone calls aren’t working, Too many different procedures per different HUB’s giving the vaccine. I am 76 with coronary artery disease, am about ready to give up. Maybe I should try to call the City Manager or Governor. Anything you do to help me?

— 76-year-old
Buda, Texas

On 2/9/21 my wife and I both spent over 8 hrs dialing and redialing a hotline for an appointment to get her the shot. Finally she got through, waited another half hour on hold, and made the appointment — and all went well afterward. But we both spent most of the day doing nothing but trying to dial. I suggest phone based systems give each caller an option to either wait on hold with a place in the queue or preferably opt for a call back with the same place in the queue. That way callers can make the most of the time they might otherwise be tied up trying to call in. The call-backs could be automated to speed up the process for phone reps. Online registration for appointments can be very efficient, but phone access is helpful or indispensable for seniors and poor people without online skills or access. 

— 69-year-old
San Antonio, Texas

Mine is the best kind of story. Mid-January I received an email from Greater Baltimore Medical Center where I see my primary care provider offering me the vaccine since I’m over 75. I was able to make an appointment right then and there. As I write this, it’s February 12. I just had my second shot and am waiting through the observation period before I go back home. Words cannot express how grateful and humbled I am for my good fortune.

— 76-year-old
Baltimore, Maryland

My wife and I are age 73, in good health, and live in Duval County, Florida (Jacksonville Beach). The county had only one site open to those over 65, and the only time one could register for an appointment was at 5:00 on Thursday. Naturally, the website was overwhelmed by 5:01, and even if one was lucky enough to make it to the registration screen, after entering all one’s information, one found that all the appointments were already taken as the site was open only from 9-5 on M-F. This system was replaced by another system where one called a phone number and left one’s phone number for a call back. The call back came from a phone number that my cell phone identified as a potential scam. Fortunately, I answered it anyway and was able to make an appointment for my wife and me. My wife didn’t receive her call until a week later. We had our first shot, but instead of scheduling our second shot, the county said “they’ll call us.” Still waiting. for that second call.

— Jacksonville Beach, Florida

Colorado 65+ eligible February 8. I had created previously our patient accounts at the 4 healthcare organizations serving northern Colorado and had us also on county information website. At 12:05am on 2/8, I checked our records at all 4 portals to be sure they had our information. Tuesday evening 2/9 at 6:45pm we received an email from one organization to go to our portal and sign up in the next 48 hours or we’d drop to bottom of list. We signed up in 5 minutes, taking first available date and time slot on 2/18 noon. We were automatically scheduled for 2nd shot 3/11. EASY PEASEY!

— 67- and 68-year-olds
Loveland, Colorado

— Feb. 17 —

My 73 year old father signed up through the City of Houston Health Department. He was given an appointment on 01/16/21. He went to get vaccinated, waiting hours in line OUTSIDE, only to be told they had run out of vaccines. They told people to either wait longer in the cold to give their names, or to call them back later to reschedule. We called the health department on three occasions and left messages, only to never receive a call back. 

A couple of weeks later, over 1.5 hours on hold (after we had two other calls dropped after over an hour on hold), and finally getting through, we were told they had already rescheduled everyone and they were out of vaccines. They verified they never contacted him to reschedule and that he had an appointment. After speaking with two supervisors, being refused to be spoken to or be called back by a manager, I was told they are overwhelmed and cannot handle the call volume, nor did they have any way of knowing who they vaccinated on the 16th in order to call outstanding individuals to reschedule. I asked if they could register him for the next incoming shipment, and they said “No, they don’t have any system in place to be able to do that”. They made no efforts to make the situation right, even though they get new shipments every week. 

The local health departments are clearly ill-equipped to be managing this process, and local officials have sadly used this as a political platform, rather than addressing it as a public health emergency, for which they should be ashamed. Vaccines should be routed to established health centers, or logistics experts (CVS, Costco, etc.) instead. My father who has heart problems is now on over five vaccine waitlists for the broader county area. I work in healthcare, and this is abysmal. 

— Beaumont, Texas

Read an article in Sunday’s SF Chronicle that mentioned (Feb 7). There were appointments available at the Moscone Center. Snagged two.

First jab this afternoon — in and out in around 30 minutes. Very smooth process. Minimal waiting in lines (though long walks for frail folks).

Told several 65+ y/o friends about the site.

Looking late this afternoon, more appointments available.

— Oakland, California

I am 73 years old and obese. I signed up with my county — Contra Costa County in California. I was told I would hear from someone but have not.

— 73-year-old
Walnut Creek, California

Lifespan of Greater Rochester Inc. is a nonprofit serving older adults in Rochester and Finger Lakes area of NYS. We have 1,700 older adults on a list. We are trying (in vain) to get appointments for them by trolling sites. At most, we manage to get a handful of appointments each day. NYS just opened eligibility to people of ANY age with co-morbidities which is only going to make it more difficult to get appointments for older adults. 

— Rochester, New York

Success story! We heard from friends that Moscone Center in San Francisco is giving Pfizer vaccines. Signed up immediately, and got the first one a few days later. It’s a huge building, great ventilation, very few people. Lines very short. Lots of helpful people to guide you to the right place.

— 73-year-old
San Francisco

Hello, I’m submitting for my in-laws, who are in their early 70s, and live in Sonoma County, CA. One does not have a primary care doctor and one does. The one who does could not figure it out from her provider. He had no information for her.

The daily updates on the website for Sonoma County said to call different providers, but they would ask my in-laws multiple questions because they are 3rd parties that find your identity through other means to set up an account, and then after all that they don’t have any appointments. We were finally able to get my mother-and-law an appointment where we work at UCSF because she was a patient here for a specialty need. My father-in-law is still out of luck.

In CA the process is systematically biased against the population of older adults they are trying to target now that longterm care and healthcare workers are largely done. Anything that is all on-line or requires multiple complicated phone calls is going to be difficult for this population.

Meanwhile where my parents, in their late 70s, live in Fort Worth, TX, they signed up on-line and got appointments pretty quickly, and were even pulled out of line when they showed up because they were older and taken to the front of the line. They have both gotten 2 doses.

— San Francisco


— 83-year-old
Oregon City, Oregon

Unable to find vaccination administration events in my area. Local health department only takes appointments weekly after 10 am on Fridays. Appointments are booked up through February 27th. Local hospital is not administering the vaccine because “Virginia vaccine administration guidelines.” Community Health offices vaccines will not be available until next month. Vaccine at CVS pharmacy not available in my town. Towns that are administering are fully booked. No Walgreens in my town. Food City does not have any vaccines available for first round.

— 68-year-old
Pounding Mill, Virginia

My wife and I are both Kaiser Members. I was told by 2 reputable friends about their getting vaccinated through Kaiser in Moscone Convention ctr SF. I called Kaiser (the day after their vaccination) and got very nice help to register (my wife and myself) for being notified of any upcoming scheduled appointments. HOWEVER NO appointments were available at that time. I asked if our ages were consistent with the availability, and was told that our ages were consistent with getting an appointment.

— 74-year-old
San Francisco

— Feb. 16 —

I am a cancer survivor that is 70 years old and live in Arkansas. I was told to sign up with a pharmacy in January in order to get vaccinated. While my name was taken, they have never called me and when I check with the pharmacy or go to the state website to check other pharmacy locations, no one is giving vaccinations in NW Arkansas. My sister checked with friends that also are 70+ in NW Arkansas and their experience is the same. One wonders just who in Arkansas is being vaccinated.

— 70-year-old
Gentry, Arkansas

I got through to the appointment desk at my HMO and answered various questions. The stopper was whether I had any cold symptoms. Yes, winter sniffles from allergies etc.; I have a cat, there’s dust, I’ve been shut up in my house for months now, so I have the sniffles. Sorry, she said, no Covid shot for you. I’m 76 and been a member of that HMO for almost 50 years. I told her that and said, Is my HMO saying I can’t get a life-saving vaccine because of SNIFFLES? I had an inspiration. Gee, I exclaimed, my cold has gone away! I even threw the Kleenex box away! She understood what was happening, backed up in the questionnaire, indicated no cold symptoms. That freed up the appointment system. I got my first shot in a city 1.5 hrs away, but at least I got it.

— 76-year-old
San Francisco

Spent more than 24 hours overall searching and refreshing pages in San Diego and finally scored my first vaccine appointment. At that appointment, there was no opportunity to schedule a second shot. We were told to use the same process and hope for the best. What is the impact on public health for those of us who never successfully are able to schedule the second vaccine? The supersite was efficient and incredibly well staffed, but the websites are absolute crap.

— 66-year-old
Encinitas, California

I had no problems signing up or getting my 1st shot even though I live in a community that exists over 3 counties and therefore 3 different local county public health departments with 3 different systems of administrations. I got in early to the county public health system and did not try to snag the first open appointment. That’s a frustrating strategy.

The local media…newspaper and TV stations and radios…have done a terrible job in explaining that knowing what county you live in is extremely important. And the public health departments are similarly defective. Now the “system” is getting an overlay of regional vaccine administrators: the 2 hospital systems and free standing pharmacies and pharmacies in grocery stores. As a result, if you live in Lansing, you can register to get a vaccine with your county, 2 hospital systems and at least 5 pharmacies: CVS, Walgreens, Kroger, Meijer, Walmart.

— 69-year-old
Lansing, Michigan

My wife & I live in Will County, Illinois, and are both over 70 (72 & 75). We sign up wherever we can, but it appears to be a waste of time, no number is assigned, only that they will contract us when doses are available. Walgreen just refers you to the CDC website. Our primary care physician tells us that we will be contacted when the Dupage Medical Group starts vaccinating their patients. The only person I know that has gotten the first dose is my sister, and she lives in Indiana.

— Frankfort, Illinois

I went on the state’s website as soon as it was advertised for people over 65. Within an hour, all appointments were booked for January and February (of course). However, website did not make that clear and kept giving other site options. After a day or two of struggling on the website, I called and after 4 hours wait, someone told me, they would be opening up more appointments within the next few days so keep checking the website. Countless hours later, there was nothing. Then magically, more appointments opened up at 9:00 am one day. I tried to make an appointment twice, and the system just kept clocking, until it finally read no appointments available for that age group. Within 30 minutes, I was told, there were no appointments left (of course). 

I try every other day, but to no avail, such a waste of time. The process and website is horrible. There’s no plan and apparently not enough doses for the 65 and over. Why do they not just say that and save us all time. I hear other states are vaccinating 65+, but not Arizona. Did Ducey just not order enough doses? I so feel for those without a computer, without transportation (Glendale arena is very far away) or without computer knowledge to navigate the system The plan to let states come up with their own plan, fend for themselves, with no funding, is no plan at all.

— 65-year-old

My grandmother has been waiting to hear from Kaiser regarding when she can be vaccinated. She is 90. It’s been 3 weeks of waiting. She went to CVS near her neighborhood and they told her to go online to sign up. But she doesn’t have internet, a cell, or a computer. 

— Los Angeles

— Feb. 12 —

I’m 65 and eligible for the vaccine. But I belong to an independent medical group, and many of the big vaccinators here are big medical groups. When I call my doctor, he tells me that they are waiting for a clinic, that he has no vaccine. The touted “mass vaccination site” at Cal Expo is barely used. When I hear there’s vaccine available at various hospitals, pharmacies and clinics, when I log on there are no appointments available. It’s vaccine for the privileged and members of the big medical groups. Everyone else loses out.

— 65-year-old
Sacramento, California

I am trying to get my 86-year-old mother vaccinated in Manhattan, NYC. Aside from the shortage, I am very angry at the hospitals and other vaccination sites for their horrible, inconsiderate websites, which are making the anxiety worse. Very simple things could be done to make them kinder. At present, you end up going in circles. For example: NorthwellHealth’s facilities are near her apartment. After going to the NYC covid page, I select one of their hospitals and click to their site. When they do not have any vaccine, they have no information on their covid page about 1st vaccine appointments. None. There is a button for making appointments, which leads you to making regular appointments with doctors. There should be a big button on the page you land on from the NYS listing that says MAKE A VACCINATION APPOINTMENT, even if there are no appointments. Some of the other sites make you fill out the forms before telling you that there are no vaccines. And you can’t just do it once. You have to do it over and over again. 

My sister and I are trying to do this for her. The fact that you MUST go thru the internet is pushing the elderly, those who need the vaccine the most, to periphery. But, at least, they could make the websites friendly and helpful. We’re a country where we spend more money and time making sure people know how to drink coke than they do helping people understand healthcare. This is a systematic problem that should be improved. There are marketing people out there who know how to interact with the public, but the healthcare system chooses not to use them.

— New York

Yesterday I experienced the good and the bad of the vaccine rollout.  My 95-year-old mother endured a one hour, twenty minute ordeal mostly standing outside 380 W MacArthur Kaiser in Oakland, thankfully a wheelchair was offered and very much appreciated.

We were there 15 minutes early for the 10:15 appt. and finished at 11:20. The whole operation seemed clunky and bureaucratic, think of standing in a long line at a rental car company.

Now to my almost dreamlike experience gliding through the Moscone Center in SF, arriving about 25 minutes early for my 5:45 appt. I was immediately checked in and escorted to the vaccination booth, the nurse checked me out on her screen asked me the routine questions jabbed my arm gave me my 5:45 sticker and sent me to observation area.  After my morning in Oakland I’d love to take my mom to Moscone for her second shot but as far as I can tell Kaiser doesn’t seem to allow that.

— Oakland, California

I’m a stage 4 cancer survivor and may have long-term heart and lung effects from the treatments I went through. I’m 44 and live in Denver. It’s unclear which vaccine group I fall into. Some states, such as New York, prioritize any cancer survivor, but Colorado only considers people who have been in treatment for the past month. Also, they want you to have two high-risk conditions — how are those defined? Do I qualify? Do my doctors have any input on that?

My oncologist and my primary care doctor have no word on when I might get vaccinated. My health system’s website says if you have an online account, you’re already in their system and they will inform you when you’re eligible. I do not know if that takes into account my medical history.

I’ve been to four pharmacies so far in my area; only one has had vaccines, and they did have a list on paper to call if they wound up with extras. I also signed up online with a couple of health care systems (Centura, National Jewish) for notifications; only one asked about medical conditions upon sign-up.

So, at this rate, I’m guessing: spring? Summer? Will I be treated as a healthy adult and be the last vaccinated?

— 44-year-old

Checked the Sacramento County website on Feb. 3. Found a link to a vaccination clinic at our neighborhood Safeway. Made an appointment for Feb. 6, at which time I received my first dose. Within minutes of being vaccinated, I received an email confirming an appointment for the second dose in 28 days.

— Sacramento, California

We heard the local center would allow people to sign up at 3 p.m. on a Sunday. My husband and I were refreshing our respective computers every five seconds waiting for the portal to open. We snagged appointments via EventBrite on the same day, same hour. When my husband and I went for our first shot, we stood in line for roughly 1½ hours outside, in the sun and heat, before we got inside the county health office, which administered the shot. Most of the other people in line were older and/or frail, with walkers and in wheelchairs. The county staff did their best to make them comfortable, which wasn’t much due to the logistics of the operation. The second shot was a breeze — in and out in about 25 minutes, including the mandatory 15-minute wait after the inoculation. I have a friend who is 80 years old, a three-time cancer survivor, and still can’t get an appointment and has tried numerous times.

— Lakewood Ranch, Florida

I signed up with the Kalamazoo County Health Department in Michigan. It was just a couple of weeks, I think, before they sent the application to sign up for the appointment. I had a choice of two days and three time spans with first, second and third choice and was asked if I needed any assistance. I then was emailed an appointment. When I got there, a policeman was directing traffic and giving instructions to stay in the car until five minutes before my appointment. It seemed less. I went through several stops very fast. The parking lot had so many cars and I had to wait 30 minutes after my injection. And, still, in 45 minutes I was driving down the street and also had my second appointment made. 

They reminded me days before my appointment, the day before my appointment and the morning of my appointment. So fast, so efficient and so many people there that there was no time to do anything but get done what had to be done. AMAZING planning and amazing workers and volunteers.

— 77-year-old
Kalamazoo, Michigan

Maryland covid distribution is a true mess. There is no central registration site. The state has a site that lists many providers, most of which do not have the vaccine. One of the large statewide vaccine sites, Six Flags America, does not allow you to sign up for the vaccine. Almost all the sites listed on the state’s website indicated they do not have the vaccine.

— 68-year-old
Ellicott City, Maryland

It’s terrible here in the county for Tier 2. That includes all the educators and everyone over 70. The appointment software company they chose to use did nothing to change their program to account for thousands daily and hourly trying to get an appointment.

I eventually was able to get my first shot. I still was not able to use the information that the Carson City Health and Human Services was putting in the news. I noodled around on the internet and discovered a notice that a drugstore (Walgreens) and a drugstore within a supermarket (Smith’s Food and Drug) were being sent the Moderna vaccine and were taking appointments starting the next day. I tried Walgreens but I don’t shop there and could not enter its system. I tried Smith’s, and it was so simple anyone could get on it. I made an appointment so easily for the next morning. Four days ago, I received an email from Kroger, the parent company of Smith’s, telling me the day and time for my second dose. 

Each city, county and state seem to have surprisingly different ways of putting out information, where and how the vaccine is delivered and administered. I do think it is still a logistics issue that was not anticipated by our former government officials.

— 78-year-old
Carson City, Nevada

I signed up for a vaccine several weeks ago with the county health department. I’m 78, living in Albuquerque. My registration was acknowledged but nothing further. The county program appears to be in chaos.

— 78-year-old
Albuquerque, New Mexico