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Vaccine appointments filled at Suffolk, state CVS locations

Trying to get an appointment this week to receive the COVID-19 vaccine from CVS?

You’ll have to wait.

A spokeswoman for CVS Health said all of its appointments for the 26,000 doses it has received were quickly filled Feb. 9 for its 36 Virginia locations offering the vaccine, including the location at 2775 Godwin Blvd. in Suffolk, after allowing people to sign up as originally planned. It won’t begin vaccinating people until Feb. 12, with its first set of appointments running through next week.

It had previously announced that it would begin allowing people to sign up Feb. 9 for a chance to receive a vaccine as soon as Feb. 11. But after saying Monday it would delay the start of the registration process by two days, the CVS Health spokeswoman said the state asked it to open the registration process Feb. 9 as it had scheduled.

“The state of Virginia asked us to open our scheduling system early for those who pre-registered for a vaccination through their local department of health,” said CVS Health spokeswoman Amy Thibault via email Feb. 9. “We have accommodated this request and Virginians who pre-registered can now look for available appointments in our system.”

The Virginia Department of Health, in a news release, stated it has been working closely with CVS over the past week to make sure the pharmacy chain’s system follows the state’s priority guidelines and provide early access to eligible people already registered on state health department waiting lists.

But due to what the state health department said was technology limitations with CVS’s national appointment system, CVS is not able to reserve appointments for pre-registered people. The state health department said it “will continue to work towards a solution in partnership with other participating states and the federal government.”

In an announcement earlier this week, CVS Health said it was delaying the start to ensure in-store availability of the vaccine.

The CVS scheduling system for vaccine appointments will open Feb. 11 for anyone aged 65 and up, whether or not they have pre-registered with their local health department, according to Thibault.

However, she said new appointment slots at the CVS locations around the state offering the vaccine would not open up until next week after CVS Health receives its second allocation from the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program for COVID-19 Vaccination, a public-private partnership between pharmacy companies and the federal government. Thibault said people should check CVS.com frequently, as it will be making the doses available as it receives them. Second dose appointments will be made when the first appointment is scheduled. There will be no walk-in vaccinations without an appointment.

CVS Health is currently the only pharmacy provider in Virginia. Some in Suffolk have reported being able to sign up to receive a COVID-19 vaccine from Walmart. However, a spokesperson for Walmart wasn’t immediately available to comment.

 

For those who are in Phase 1A or 1B in the Western Tidewater Health District — Suffolk, Franklin, Isle of Wight County or Southampton County — and wanting to pre-register for the vaccine locally, they can call the newly-established call center in Suffolk at 757-514-4570 from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, or go online at https://redcap.vdh.virginia.gov/redcap/surveys/?s=WW97HTFCE9 to complete the information. For those without an active email address, they can enter “N/A” for the email and enter a phone number instead.

Once completed, people will get a follow-up contact to register for an appointment as soon as additional spots are available. The Western Tidewater Health District states that the form will be the fastest way to get an appointment, but “it may be weeks or months before the vaccine and an appointment are available.”

The health department notes that pre-registering does not reserve a vaccine or an appointment. Officials at the health district ask that people not call or email to check their status, or pre-register multiple times or leave multiple messages, as it will cause delays or prevent others from getting a vaccine.

Suffolk city spokesman Tim Kelley said no data has yet been compiled on how many people have called the call center since it opened at 1 p.m. Feb. 8, but he noted there has been a steady stream of calls coming into it. He said four people will be there to answer the phones during its operating hours.

To access the CVS Health scheduling system, people can go to https://www.cvs.com/immunizations/covid-19-vaccine or use the CVS Pharmacy app to schedule an appointment. Those without internet access can call its customer service phone number at 800-746-7287.

CVS Health is asking people to use “appropriate digital channels or contact customer service rather than contacting individual CVS Pharmacy locations to check on whether appointments are available.”

CVS Health said its pharmacy locations in Virginia will change regularly based on vaccine supply and it would not provide a full list of participating locations.