GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Those working to get eligible people vaccinated against COVID-19 have discovered some are taking advantage of the multiple-provider system by setting up multiple appointments, thus slowing down an already difficult rollout process with last-minute cancellations or no-shows.
“We are seeing some people who are registering to get vaccinated on multiple sites for multiple appointments and this is a real issue because when you make your registration, a set of things goes into motion,” Kent County Health Department spokesman Steve Kelso told News 8 Friday.
“First of all, a vaccine is reserved for you in your name. Staff time is reserved for you in your name. The infrastructure necessary to bring that shot to your arm is reserved for you in your name,” he explained. “Now, if you don’t show up for other appointments that you’ve made, that’s limited the number of people from not being able to make those appointments.”
Signing up through different providers to show you’re interested in getting a vaccine once it’s your turn isn’t the problem. What is a problem is making multiple appointments.
“They potentially are denying their friends, their family, their neighbors the ability to get that vaccine into their arm and our ability to provide it and slowing down the efficiency,” Kelso said, “and the sheer numbers of this thing shows us we need to move.”
He couldn’t share the number of people the department has identified who have abused the system, but did say the problem has reached the point that a new public service announcement will be broadcast telling people not to hoard appointments.
“We truly believe that most people are going to respect their place in line and are going to not do this multiple registration thing,” Kelso said. “But we are asking for your help in this instance and we are asking, we’re appealing, to your better nature because your behavior could impact your neighbor, your friend, your family and our ability to get this vaccine rolling.”
In Kalamazoo County, health officials are asking residents for patience and understanding while the county works through its rapidly growing vaccine waitlist.
Currently, there are three locations administering the vaccine: Ascension Borgess, Bronson Healthcare and the local health department.
On Friday, Jim Rutherford, health officer of the Kalamazoo County Health and Community Services Department, asked that residents who make multiple appointments cancel those they will not need as soon as receiving the vaccine, and added the three vaccine administrators are working together to remove duplicate requests.