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Chesterfield mom on the wait to get COVID vaccine for son with down syndrome: "It’s just frustrating"

Posted at 11:47 PM, Mar 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-09 11:49:03-05

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- The Chesterfield Health District expanded eligibility for a COVID-19 vaccine under Phase 1b on Monday, but some residents expressed frustration as they continued to wait for a call to make an appointment.

Chesterfield resident, Anita Schilling said she worried for her husband, Tim, who is over the age of 65 and has had several strokes. But most of all, Schilling said she worried for one of her five children, Isaac -- a 29-year-old living with Down Syndrome.

"If he was sick, we might not even know it until it's severe," said Schilling.

As a teacher, Schilling said she was able to get her second and final dose of the vaccine by late February, but Tim and Isaac are still waiting.

"If I could’ve given it to him, yeah, I would have," said Schilling.

Schilling added that the wait had been agonizing. "It’s just frustrating to wait and wait and feel confusion."

Schilling said they had to register for the vaccine twice, once with the Chesterfield County Health Department, and the second time with the state's centralized system.

"We thought we’d done it the right way, and if we hadn’t been checking, checking, checking, we wouldn’t have known that they’re never going to get that call or that email because they weren’t even on the list," said Schilling.

Another Chesterfield Resident, Tom Bierowski, said he had a similar experience.

"We registered first on January 28, and then come to find out couple months later, we weren’t registered," said Bierowski.

Cat Long with the Richmond Henrico Health Department said recent improvements to the centralized registration system have made it possible for you to know for sure you’re signed up correctly.

For those who are eligible for the vaccine, but aren't receiving any communication for an appointment, Long had the following advice.

"Go ahead and make sure that you are in the system. Check the pre-registration on vaccinate.virginia.gov, to make sure that that hasn't been an issue as to why you haven't been contacted," said Long. "The second thing I would say is to encourage people to answer their phones. Unfortunately, not all of our phones are Virginia numbers. Some of the cell providers flag some of our lines as spam."

Long added that they typically will call you at least two times, before they'll move onto the next person for that specific event -- but you won't lose your place on the list. The VDH will call you again for the next event.

For those who want a vaccine and have not yet registered, Long said you have two pathways of making sure health officials know you're interested.

"For seniors who are over 65, they should look at CVS," said Long. "CVS is the only pharmacy and only vaccine provider who isn't integrated with our system. So, 65 or older, keep an eye out for CVS, but then also everyone, regardless of your age, should, if you're interested in receiving a vaccine should fill out the form at vaccinate.virginia.gov," Long said.

Fortunately for the Schilling family, the expansion of Phase 1b vaccinations in Virginia on Monday meant people with disabilities, like Isaac, were eligible for their vaccines.

"He's getting his shot tomorrow," said Schilling.

However, Schilling said her husband -- who was over the age of 65 and had been eligible for some time -- is still waiting for a call.