One woman’s desperation for the vaccine leads to weeks of searching

Getting vaccinated has been a long and complicated process for many, including Sue Ducat, a Montgomery County resident who spent weeks trying to secure an appointment after becoming eligible in January.

“It took a village to get there,” Ducat said. “It was quite a complicated journey.”

She first tried, unsuccessfully, to get a leftover vaccine at a local Giant grocery store in Silver Spring on five different occasions while searching online — an effort she said that became a part time job.

She said she is fortunate, she had three computer browsers and two phone lines to work with.

“Not everyone has any of that,” she stressed.

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

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

Ducat said eventually, there would be dozens of people waiting around hoping to score a leftover vaccine, and social distancing guidelines were not being followed stringently.

“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.

She also slept with her iPad hoping that someone might cancel their appointment, and that she’d get an alert of an available dose.

During the first few months the vaccine was available in Maryland, the rollout faced criticisms from residents who spent hours at a time on hold waiting to secure an appointment, or faced the task of navigating multiple websites in hopes of securing a spot.

In late February, the state announced that it would roll out a unified preregistration site for Marylanders still trying to secure a vaccine.

Last week, Ducat finally secured an appointment at the M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, where she received her first shot.

She, like many Marylanders, said the system made the process complicated.

“Feeling so out of control, so scared, I desperately wanted that vaccine,” Ducat said. “I’m just grateful that I have it.”

Her husband died last year due to COVID-19 complications, making getting vaccinated an important step for her own health.

More Coronavirus news

Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

WTOP’s Luke Lukert and Zeke Hartner contributed to this report. 

Melissa Howell

Melissa Howell joined WTOP Radio in March 2018 and is excited to cover stories that matter across D.C., as well as in Maryland and Virginia. 

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