Virginia's COVID-19 vaccine czar calls CVS rollout: 'Not ideal'

Posted at 6:03 PM, Feb 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-09 18:50:50-05

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- Virginia's COVID-19 vaccine rollout czar Dr. Danny Avula freely admitted Tuesday the rollout of vaccine offered at some Virginia CVS locations was "not ideal."

The Virginia Department of Health and CVS were trying to give early access to people over 65 and had pre-registered for the vaccine with their local health departments.

But because of technological issues, the CVS vaccine sign-up was open to anyone.

"CVS was very willing to explore opportunities with us, but they were not able to deliver a technological solution," Avula said.

An 11th-hour agreement was reached Monday night to open Virginia's registration system on Tuesday morning with the hope of giving health departments a head start to sign up people who were on their pre-registered lists.

However, Avula said CVS couldn't open their sign-up page to a limited capacity.

"What that led to, was that everybody, anybody who was on the internet, trying to get an appointment to CVS could go in and make an appointment," Avula said.

A CVS spokesperson said all appointment slots for their 26,000 doses were filled within hours.

Tried and Failed

Henrico County resident Pam Mowbray was one of the many Virginians who tried, and failed, to get a CVS appointment.

She was also trying to get one for her 68-year-old husband.

"Essentially let down, let down by something that had been promised," she said when asked to describe her feelings Tuesday. "I'm just frantically trying to get him a vaccine. I don't know why. I guess what I'm saying is this should not be as difficult as it is."

Mowbray said she'd originally been told sign-up would be today but was then told it moved to Thursday.

A change CVS announced late last night.

By the time Mowbray realized people were able to sign-up in Virginia on Tuesday, all the spots had been taken.

Avula said he did not how many of the spots were filled by local health departments from their pre-registered lists.

He added they're also dropping the requirement that people have to have been pre-registered with their local health departments to sign up with CVS because they couldn't figure out a way to check that on-site.

Going forward people only need to be over 65 in order to sign-up. They will be asked for proof when they come to get their shot.