NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — As promised, CVS released more available appointments for COVID-19 vaccines Thursday morning. However, they were gone within minutes.
CVS will start actually administering the doses on Friday, Feb. 12. They have 26,000 doses to start through the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program, and 26,000 additional are expected next week.
Many people contacted 10 On Your Side with their frustrations. We’ve heard from a few people who were able to make an appointment, but most people did not have that outcome and are frustrated.
At 4:30 Thursday morning, Robert Place was on the CVS website, hopeful that he beat the rush.
“When I got to the final page to make the appointment, it came up with another page that said ‘our scheduler is being updated’ and it did that for the next hour and a half,” said Place. “I could not get in. That whole time, I’m watching the cities in dwindle away.”
He was taken to another page, with another 30 minute wait.
“I thought I was hitting pay dirt,” Place said. “I wound up just hitting dirt.”
Place never made an appointment, after hours on the computer.
“Total frustration,” he said. “I don’t know why the system kept saying that it was being updated.”
His new plan is to wake up even earlier.
“I’m going to try again at midnight tonight and see if I can get that to work,” said Place. “It would mean that I don’t have to worry so much about being, about contracting this COVID-19.”
Norfolk resident Larry Geromin doesn’t plan on waking up at midnight, but also kept checking the CVS website throughout the day.
“You go on there and it’ll say there’s nothing available,” said Geromin. “It’s frustrating in the fact that there’s no central distribution system.”
His daughter, WAVY-TV technical director Reba Bloom, did her best to get him an appointment, too, but no luck.
“I would get to a point where there would be hope and I would think there would be an appointment coming and then when you get to the part where they ask for a zip code or city, there’s no vaccine available and there’s no appointments available,” said Bloom. “I would just feel safer if he had it.”
A CVS spokesperson says the scheduling tool was working, but was also experiencing heavy traffic. She says people should check the website frequently, in case there are any cancellations or no shows. She also said there will be more appointments available when the pharmacy gets its next allotment from the federal government next week.
The scheduling issues Thursday are not the only issue CVS has had this week.
Following a confusing rollout, CVS and state health officials changed the way a person can qualify to receive COVID-19 vaccines from CVS pharmacies.
CVS added a stipulation that those receiving the vaccines needed to be 65 or older. There was also confusion over when residents could start scheduling themselves for appointments this week.
Virginia officials said the answer was a combination of technological and communication errors.