CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - The Blue Ridge Health District is trying to hammer out some kinks after confusion at its Kmart vaccination site on Wednesday, Feb. 17.
The Blue Ridge Health District posted a statement on Facebook about the COVID-19 vaccine clinic being held at the former Kmart location in Charlottesville. After hours of confusion, the statement said a sign-up link was shared beyond the list of people it was intended for.
It goes on to say that due to a large turnout, the Wednesday clinic is being restricted to people 55 and over. BRHD says people under 55 will be turned away.
“You wouldn’t even believe, I mean there are people in wheelchairs, there are people with oxygen tanks, and they’re waiting outside in 32-degree weather for hours,” Sara Davenport said.
She waited nearly two hours to get her second dose that had been scheduled weeks prior. “It is absolutely crazy. There are people who brought chairs,” she said,
“It’s a case of too good to be true,” Nicholas Lang said. He was also waiting in line for many hours. “We got here a half-hour early and saw this incredible mess.”
BRHD staff said limited supply was part of the issue started turning people away, like Robin Halsey’s daughter.
“She texted me and said she was turned away because they had made a mistake that no one under 65 was supposed to come,” Halsey said. “Well, they didn’t send out an email about that. They didn’t send out an email to me that they were going to be triple booking today.”
Others in line with underlying health conditions were also turned away due to the mixed messaging.
“The woman in front of me was practically in tears,” Davenport said. “She called somebody at the health department. She said, ‘I’m under 65 but I only have one kidney I need this vaccine so badly.”
Many want to know why the system allowed this to happen, including John Kluge.
“If we want people to use things in an orderly way and in the way that they should, we need to build the tools and software and the communications so that people know what they’re supposed to do and aren’t confused,” John Kluge said.
Kluge was one of the many turned away even though he had an appointment. He has no issue with giving his slot to someone who needs it more, his problem lies with the blurred lines of communication.
“The bottom line is that the public needs very clear direction from state government and our health department officials and they’re not getting that yet,” he said.
Facebook statement: “Last night, BRHD sent invitations to individuals ages 65+ to be vaccinated at our COVID-19 Kmart vaccination site today, February 17th. The PrepMod link to register for an appointment was shared with people outside of the intended invitation list.
Due to an overwhelming number of people who shared the link and our limited vaccine supply, we have restricted eligibility of today’s Kmart clinic to individuals ages 55+. We are cancelling all appointments this afternoon for anyone under the age of 55. If you are under 55 and show up for a vaccine this afternoon, you will be turned away.
We apologize for this inconvenience.”