Health officials are asking individuals who have received their COVID-19 vaccines to cancel any extra vaccine appointments they may have made.
Dr. Todd Karpinski, vice president and chief pharmacy officer for WVU Medicine, said that when vaccines were relatively scarce, people were signing up for multiple vaccine waiting lists, including WVU Medicine, Walgreens, Walmart and the state of West Virginia in hopes of getting an appointment.
As soon as those who signed up for multiple waiting lists secured a vaccine appointment, they did not cancel previously made appointments that may have been less timely or remove themselves from waiting lists with other health centers or pharmacies, he said.
“Obviously it’s an issue because it’s taking up a spot, then, that somebody [else] could have had if they would have gone ahead and canceled it, as well as creates some operational difficulties when trying to staff clinics, to know how many people are going to be there,” Karpinski said.
He said that when community vaccinations first started in early 2021, there was about a 0.5% no-show rate. This week, WVU Medicine has seen about a 10% no-show rate to vaccine appointments.
“Our thought is the majority of those folks have probably already gotten a vaccine somewhere else and they just didn’t cancel their appointment with us,” he said.
Karpinski said that while it is okay to be put on multiple vaccine wait lists, individuals should make a note to go back and remove themselves from other lists, and most importantly, cancel any future appointments they may have made once they have secured an ideal vaccine appointment.
Canceling an appointment that is no longer needed enables health centers and pharmacies to find other individuals on their lists that are still in need of the vaccine to fill that time slot.
Karpinski said that as of now, there is not a national system that enables health centers and pharmacies to see an individual’s vaccination records. However, there is discussion regarding the development of a national vaccine passport in which vaccination information would be electronically stored.
Another area health official, Mon Health Chief Nursing Executive Krystal Atkinson, said that as people become eligible for the vaccine, they may end up with multiple appointments as they try to ensure that they receive the vaccine as soon as possible.
She agreed with Karpinski’s assertion that individuals making multiple vaccine appointments results in an increased rate of no-shows.
“Many of those patients forget to cancel their other appointments, leading to a high rate of no-shows,” she said.
Atkinson said it is incredibly important that not even a single dose of any COVID-19 vaccine be wasted, so Mon Health encourages those who have received the vaccine to cancel extra appointments and remove themselves from any waiting lists.
“We want to reiterate that the vaccine is safe and effective. We highly encourage all West Virginians to get vaccinated once they become eligible,” Atkinson said.