Maryland couple struggles with finicky COVID-19 vaccine process

covid vaccine couple
Vicki Burnham (left) and her husband are both over 65, with her husband, Elliot, having been diagnosed with cancer in January and set to begin chemotherapy in a few weeks. (Courtesy Vicki Burnham)

For one Fort Washington, Maryland couple, trying to get their COVID-19 vaccine appointment has been an exercise in frustration, heartbreak — and patience.

Vicki Burnham told WTOP she’s over 65 and her husband, Elliot, is over 75. He was diagnosed with cancer in January and is facing chemotherapy in a few weeks.

“He needs that shot,” she said.

Burnham said she’s staying on top of vaccine information, and most importantly, how to get an appointment.

What she does, “virtually every single day, at least twice a day, I go on to that What that does is you can find out which, if any, places in your area would be distributing the vaccine — making the assumption they have it.”

She also checks within her county of residence.

“I check everything I can in terms of [Prince George’s] County, Adventist Healthcare, the University of Maryland, MedStar, Safeway, Giant, Six Flags,” she said.

Her latest attempt was trying to book an appointment at Adventist Hospital in Fort Washington.

She and her husband went online, picked appointment times and were filling out their information, but by the time they were done, the slot was gone.

“We may not be the fastest, but we’re pretty computer savvy, here,” Burnham said. “I assumed once I got an appointment time that I had an appointment, but that is not the case.”

So they kept trying. Picking an appointment time. Typing in their information.

“And for each of us, three times, it came back saying the appointment was not available.”

Burnham had a suggestion to help limit some of the frustration.

“If it turns out that slot that you applied for wasn’t available, why doesn’t it show you the next available slot that you can then just apply for and get it, as opposed to having resubmit and redo the whole thing?”

Or, Burnham said, making the appointment systems resemble what would happen when people ordered movie tickets online: When someone clicks an appointment time having a feature that locks in that slot for five or so minutes to give enough time for people to fill out their patient information.

She hopes something changes because “it’s been awful. I think the state could have done better, but it’s a mess.”

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.

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