Frustrations grow over COVID-19 vaccination appointments

Frustrations grow over COVID-19 vaccination appointments

PASCAGOULA, Miss. (WLOX) - Hospitals and health systems are having to wait for more COVID-19 vaccines in order to continue administering additional vaccinations. The Mississippi State Department of Health estimates that the next shipment of vaccines may not arrive until the middle of February.

The state department of health will be operating at maximum capacity through the end of January, using all available vaccines to vaccinate 52,000 eligible people.

For people like David Winsett, that means waiting around another month before receiving a shot.

“Opening it up the way they did without having enough vaccines on hand to do that, it is frustrating,” said Winsett.

There are also frustrations with wait times when it comes to scheduling a vaccination appointment. Many viewers have reached out to WLOX over issues surrounding getting an appointment. Biloxi resident Connie Peunel said she gave up on scheduling an appointment over the phone and decided to give the website a try.

“Every time you call, they’re busy. So I went to the website at the health department that they had listed and I was 6,954 in line,” said Peunel. “We have gone through a year of this and it continues. What are we supposed to do?”

When Winsett was scheduling an appointment, after about one hour waiting in the queue, he was around number 2,000 in line but then his position jumped back up to nearly 6,000.

“Once I got in, they had no more appointments available locally,” he said. “The closest thing was Hattiesburg Mississippi, and Jackson, and I think Tupelo. Can’t really do that.”

Mississippi Emergency Management Agency Executive Director Greg Michel said on Wednesday that upgrades to the appointment website will be made before more vaccines arrive.

“It was only built to handle 5,000 users at one time,” he explained. “Clearly, that number is way lower than it needs to be based on the call volume or appointment demand volume.”

If you have already received the first shot of the vaccine, the state department of health says your second shot should be available as planned.

In addition to the clogged phone lines and overwhelmed website, different distribution systems are being used for the vaccines, which is causing even more confusion for some health providers.

“There has been a little bit of miscommunication,” said Coastal Family Health employee Emily Burke. “People think they can just drive up and get one and, unfortunately, that’s not the case. You have to have an appointment, and with that comes a call canter volume that has quadrupled and so it’s very hard to get through. So I just suggest that you keep trying.”

However, despite all of these issues, there will eventually be enough vaccines for everyone. Health experts say it will take months to get everyone vaccinated.

The availability of vaccines is changing daily so, in the meantime, keep checking with the state health department or your local health care provider before going to get a vaccine.

As of Wednesday, Jan. 13, the state of Mississippi announced that all available vaccines have been allotted, and that another shipment isn’t expected until mid-February.

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