DPH explains why some people in Phase 1A distribution have not received COVID-19 vaccine

DPH explains why some people in Phase 1A distribution have not received COVID-19 vaccine

COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - As Phase 1A in Georgia’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan continues to move along, many eligible people say they still have not received a dose.

People like 80-year-old Sharon Hightower say they are frustrated and do not understand the registration process to receive a COVID vaccine. After WTVM met with her personally today and addressed her specific situation with the health department, she is now well on her way to receiving a dose.

“I don’t mind being alone, after 30 years you get used to that,” Hightower said.

Hightower has a mixed bag of medical problems. She is a widow after losing her husband. Once she found out she qualified, Hightower knew she wanted the COVID-19 vaccine.

“I started the process as soon as I saw the health department offering it online,” she said. “That is when I did it the first time.”

Hightower admits, like many other senior citizens, she’s not as tech-savvy as she’d like to be. Once she figured it out, she registered a second time, hoping it would prompt someone at the Columbus Health Department to give her a call.

“I waited and waited and kept seeing people I knew going and getting it, and I thought, well, maybe I did not register,” Hightower said.

With Hightower anxious to get her vaccine, News Leader 9 reached out to Pamela Kirkland at the Columbus Health Department.

“I found her registration and see she registered again on [January] 14th, which we really do not want people to do because it backlogs the system and we have to manually go in and clear out duplicate registrations,” Kirkland said.

Because Hightower registered two times, the system gave her a new registration number, pushing her further back in the vaccination process.

“She was like number 1,326. You can imagine when we are doing a clinic with about 500 doses to administer that it still does not put much of a dent in the 19,000 people already registered,” Kirkland said.”

The Department of Public Health wants to help vaccinate as many people as possible. But because of limited doses of the COVID vaccine, they have to follow the system’s registration process. Meaning, if it is your turn to get a vaccine, you will be contacted, but in the meantime, once you’ve registered, be patient.

So, the message is this to only register online once if you’re in West Central Health District.

After reviewing Hightower’s specific case, the good news is that she has been connected to receive help and further instruction in the process with the upcoming possibility of receiving a vaccine, if it is her turn soon.

There is a vaccination clinic that will be held Friday at the Columbus Civic Center where health officials hope to administer the vaccine to hundreds who’ve registered. Vaccinations are by appointment only, and only for Phase 1A candidates who’ve already registered.

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