Hanging around pharmacies, grocery stores in hopes of scoring leftover vaccine doses

Policies of not wasting a single coronavirus vaccine in the D.C. area have spurred many people to stand around in pharmacies and grocery stores hoping to score any leftover doses.

Sue Ducat became one of those vaccine hunters after facing frustration while trying to get an online appointment.

She became eligible for the vaccine in late January and like many in 2021 has found it difficult to get a hold of the vaccine.

“I think searching for a vaccine right now it’s a full-time job, and I really have a full-time job so I’ve been trying without success to get appointments online,” said Ducat.

So, as she puts it, she decided to make vaccine hunting a part-time job. Until recently, she went to her local Giant in Silver Spring, Maryland, hoping to get the vaccine.

Ducat said that pharmacy staff would collect the names of people who were waiting on an extra shot with the oldest in line getting the first chance at the vaccine.

“The first week I went, the line wasn’t all that large and I almost got it two weeks ago today … I was the sixth-oldest person in line. Unfortunately there were only five vaccines,” Ducat told WTOP on Sunday.

Ducat said she went another four times, but the secret recently got out and there have been more and more vaccine hunters turning out lately.

“The last time I went was last Monday and there were 35 people in line and they were not socially distancing. I got very nervous about that and decided that I didn’t want to run the risk of getting sick to try to get a vaccine,” she said.

So now Ducat has gone back to trying to find appointments online.

She said she has been sleeping with her iPad in the hopes that someone might cancel their appointment and she’ll be alerted that a vaccine has become available.

Ducat said that losing focus on the chase for even 30 minutes can be the difference between getting a shot of vaccine and going home empty-handed.

“On Friday, I got an email that was time stamped at 2:07 p.m. saying that there were appointments available. I opened it at 2:27 [p.m.] and immediately clicked the link and there were no more appointments,” she said.

Ducat told WTOP that she has found local listservs like the one for her Rolling Woods neighborhood to be the best resource in sharing tips and vaccine success stories.

Ducat said she holds hope to get the vaccine soon, in memory of her husband who died from COVID-19 last year.

“I’m trying to get that vaccine for me, to honor my husband’s memory and so we can all get back together again and resume the life we used to live.”

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Luke Lukert

Since joining WTOP Luke Lukert has held just about every job in the newsroom from producer to web writer and now he works as a full-time reporter. He is an avid fan of UGA football. Go Dawgs!

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