Richmond-area seniors anxiously wait for the phone call: ‘You can’t get the vaccine’

Posted at 1:10 AM, Jan 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-29 06:29:22-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- Thousands of people aged 75+ who filled out a COVID-19 vaccine interest form with their local health department will get vaccinated this coming weekend.

The Virginia Department of Health urged seniors who have signed up to answer the phone if contacted to make an appointment.

The roughly 7,000 doses are available to seniors (primarily 75+) who live in the Richmond and Henrico Health Districts, Chesterfield Health District, and Chickahominy Health District.

CBS 6 stopped by a call center inside the Richmond City Health District on East Cary Street on Thursday.

Nicole Fields leads a team of a dozen schedulers.

Seven of her employees work remotely due to the ongoing pandemic.

“It’s been a consistent theme of 'thank you' since we started calling,” Fields explained.

In fact, some of the individuals she called have cried after learning they were set up with an appointment.

Fields said many seniors have been forced to stay inside away from friends and family since lockdowns began in March.

“[One daughter said, it’s has been like my mom was held hostage for the past year in a space because we are scared to take her out,” she recalled.

VCU Health System donated vaccines from its supply to make the mass vaccination event possible.

If you or a loved one filled out an interest form, you are urged to answer the phone and check email for details about the mass vaccination events scheduled for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

"Schedulers will work through the interest form lists; seniors will receive one e-mail and two phone calls before the scheduler moves on to the next person," Cat Long, with the Richmond and Henrico Health Districts, wrote in an email. "Directions in the e-mail must be completed by the deadline listed. Due to the high volume of registrations, we are unable to accept calls back from seniors, so it is important they answer the phone."

Phone calls will be made between 8 a.m. - 8 p.m. until all appointments are filled.

Dan Wilson and his wife in Powhatan have anxiously waited weeks for their phone call.

They’ve added their names and phone numbers to three separate lists through their health district and the state.

“I don’t have any concerns about taking the vaccine. The problem is you can’t get the vaccine,” Wilson stated. “It’ll be some kind of relief to at least hear from somebody.”

Both are eligible for a dose under Phase 1B as they are over the age of 65.

Wilson joins numerous CBS 6 viewers who have stated difficulties navigating the various systems to get vaccinated. In some cases, individuals who were ineligible for a vaccine were able to access the system through a backdoor loophole.

Others have shown up without an appointment at various clinics clogging up the lines.

Barbara Brown is the program coordinator at the Senior Center of Greater Richmond at the Peter Paul Development Center in the city’s East End. With her pre-existing conditions, she figured she would’ve received her shot in the arm already.

“I’m older than 75 so therefore I thought I was going to be in one for the first categories to get it. I’m also a breast cancer survivor and I have diabetes,” Brown said.

Brown has helped several seniors sign up for a vaccine through various programs.

She hoped to get the vaccine through her personal doctor, but the widespread vaccine shortage has made that difficult. Her doctor didn’t know when they would receive their batch of vaccines.

Interested individuals are asked to fill out forms to get on a waitlist in order to be contacted about an appointment.

Use the links below to find information about your specific location:

Richmond, Henrico CountyClick here Richmond-Henrico Health District or call 804-205-3501

Chesterfield County, Colonial Heights, Powhatan CountyClick here Chesterfield Health Districtor call 804-318-8207

Hanover County, Goochland County, New Kent County, Charles City CountyClick here Chickahominy Districtor call 804-365-3240

No matter how you signed up, health officials said the lists will be combined when the state unveils a new registration system next week.

There is no need to re-register if you’ve signed up within the past weeks.