DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — The COVID-19 vaccine rollout across Georgia is facing another problem. Channel 2′s Sophia Choi has learned that people are double- and triple-booking appointments, leading to no-shows at vaccination sites.
That is putting the precious vaccine in jeopardy of going to waste because once it is thawed, it only has a shelf life of about 12 hours, according to health experts.
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“So, they’ll book an appointment in DeKalb. They’ll book an appointment in Fulton and then they’ll book an appointment in Gwinnett. And whoever books them first, that’s the one they go to,” said Dr. S. Elizabeth Ford, director of DeKalb County Board of Health.
On Saturday, only 80 out of 200 individuals who booked appointments at DeKalb vaccination sites showed up.
When that happens, health care workers are on a mad dash to use the thawed vaccine in time.
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“We don’t waste vaccine. If we have leftover vaccine, we will vaccinate staff,” Ford said. “Or we will try to call folks who are interested to see how fast they can get over to our site.”
Health care worker Lalitya Danda came to the Doraville site to get vaccinated on Wednesday. She was surprised to learn of the no-shows.
“People are losing lives and you’re just saving spots so you can just like get ahead of the game. I feel like that’s very unfair to the rest of society,” Danda said.
The Department of Public Health told Choi that this is a statewide issue, but because vaccinations are a federal effort, Georgia has no authority to regulate it.
Right now, Georgia residents can book an appointment in any county as long as they meet the requirements.
Georgia is currently in phase 1a-plus, which includes health care workers, first responders and those over 65 years old.