KANSAS CITY, Mo. — News of large vaccine clinics coming to Kansas City is welcome to many who say the rollout’s been flawed. FOX4 has heard from many of you who have struggled to find open appointments.
Truman Medical Center/University Health is one place that’s really been cranking through a lot of people to get the COVID-19 shot, with 42,000 doses given so far. You can get an appointment by phone by calling 404-CARE.
But many communities require online sign-up, and you might be on multiple lists, still waiting for a call that there’s a dose for you.
Missouri has a statewide vaccine website to find and make appointments. There’s not a statewide scheduler in Kansas. For more than two months, navigating it all and finding an opening near you hasn’t been easy.
“Is it too hard? Yes it is,” said Dr. Steven Stites, University of Kansas Health System chief medical officer.
In a video call provided by the health system, doctors and bio-ethics experts shared their own frustrations with what they call a flawed vaccine sign-up process.
“The problem that some folks have is much of the sign-up in many areas relies on an electronic approach. So by doing that you automatically select for people who a) have ability to get there because they have electronic devices and b) they have wherewithal to do so. So unless you have someone who is your champion then you have a hard time doing it,” Stites said.
That was true for Shamone Smith. She’s a Truman patient. TMC/University Health reached out to her, asking if she’d like to get the COVID vaccine. When she said no, the housing authority’s coordinator at the building where she lives asked again.
“I have diabetes and am asthmatic so I feel it was good for me to get it, plus I have grandkids that have sickle cell so it’s kind of scary for me with it,” Smith said.
Health systems are working to call and send letters to people who qualify for the vaccine. Kansas city’s 311 call center is also signing up dozens of people daily who don’t have internet access.
“If you’re sitting online all day, then maybe you can find it. But if you’re folks, and a lot that call us, are in their 70s, 80s and 90s, and say, ‘Where can I go? What can I do?’ We’re trying to make sure we have consistency there,” said Mayor Quinton Lucas.
After losing her brother to COVID-19, Piccola Williams is thankful her turn for vaccination came Thursday.
A partnership with TMC and Ride KC helped make it happen. She hopes more solutions like that will come on board to help improve access for those who need the vaccine most.
“It’s a great thing for others to reach out and to help as much as possible and lot of people need the support. They really do,” Williams said.
Part of the problem in booking appointments is that there are still challenges with vaccine supply. But experts believe with a third vaccine now here, the situation will dramatically improve within the next six weeks, allowing all of us to find doses close to home much easier.