On Getting Vaccinated...

Posted on 03/12/21

By Grace Sobeck, AARP Michigan

The subject of vaccinations has prompted passionate debate among people of all ages. One difficulty identified by AARP volunteers was the initial appointment sign-up for the vaccine.

Many found common ground when signing up: they contacted multiple facilities and did not hear back in a timely manner. However, many kind connections helped in the process of getting their vaccine.

Howard Pizzo shared his story expressing some frustration when it came to sign-up. Howard is from Lansing, MI. and the county sent him a notice that they were taking applicants for the vaccine. Unfortunately, there was some confusion when first using the website, but he made it through. Once registered he noticed that the invite failed to mention the location as well as other appointment details. Howard called and emailed the Ingham County Health Department but did not receive any answers or returned calls. Luckily, Howard received a call from his doctor’s office informing him he could set up an appointment for the vaccine, which was later successful. Howard is now fully vaccinated but reflects on a somewhat faulty system.

Hospital volunteer, Avril Tegge, looks back on her experience with a happy heart. She was fortunate to receive the vaccine relatively early because she worked as a volunteer at the hospital in Dewitt, MI. She was grateful that the process was so smooth because she heard some of her friends in Detroit were having trouble getting signed up for the vaccine. She hopes that areas such as Detroit figure out a system that better serves the people.

Throughout these many stories there is a common theme: the initial logistics of sign-up for the vaccine, are a little troubling. There is a large volume of people trying to register and there seems to be both  a shortage of vaccine supply and not enough people to handle these requests. However, with help from friends, family, and kind strangers, many people have been able to receive their vaccine.

Maelou Butler has been negatively affected by poor communications in the COVID-19 vaccination process. Maelou lives in Jackson, MI and reports trouble getting through to multiple places when trying to schedule an appointment. She has been put on hold, or her calls were not returned. But Maelou remains persistent. She continues to work on getting her vaccination appointment and encourages others not to accept defeat and to ask around for inoculation opportunities.

Brenda Evans-Spratling reported an experience that was somewhat difficult at the start. Brenda, like many others, signed up with multiple places: her primary care doctor, Meijer, and the Health Department in her area – Wixom, MI. None of these vaccination sites had gotten back to her in a timely manner, but a mutual friend came to the rescue. This friend told her about a portal where she could sign up for the vaccine, several weeks after she signed up at other places. She was pleasantly surprised to see there were appointments available the very next day through this portal. Brenda feels her experience, once she finally obtained an appointment, was excellent. She also urges others to keep trying.

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Claudette Reid, from Portage, MI, had a frustrating experience, the night of her vaccine. She and her husband applied through Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids, which was administering vaccines at the DeVos Center. This location was a service hub for all West Michigan, so a large number of people was trying to access Spectrum’s vaccination services. On a snowy night they made their 60-mile trek from Portage to Grand Rapids. Once they arrived, Claudette had no issues checking in, but her husband was told that he wasn’t registered. After their long ride,  both were frustrated with the failure of the system. However, again, due to a kind person, they achieved their mission. A nurse urged the staff to allow him to get his vaccine, despite the registration error and that night they were both able to return home with their first dose.

Throughout these many stories there is a common theme: the initial logistics of sign-up for the vaccine are a little troubling. There is a large volume of people trying to register and there seems to be both  a shortage of vaccine supply and not enough people to handle these requests. However, with help from friends, family, and kind strangers, many people have been able to receive their vaccine. Once these vaccine recipients were able to get appointments, they all reported an excellent and organized experience. As we collectively work through these scheduling roadblocks, and continue to be persistent, the goal is to inch closer to herd immunity and a sense of normalcy.

AARP encourages everyone to consult with their doctor about getting vaccinated.

This story is provided by AARP Michigan. Visit the AARP Michigan page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.

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Find information about getting a COVID-19 vaccine in your state. CDC information is available at cdc.gov/coronavirus; additional AARP information and resources are at aarp.org/coronavirus. En español, visite aarp.org/elcoronavirus.

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