Louisville seniors struggle to find vaccine appointments; county’s only vaccine waitlist grows exponentially

Louisville seniors struggle to find vaccine appointments; county’s only vaccine waitlist grows exponentially
Dr. Sarah Moyer with LMDHW estimates the county has vaccinated and/or booked vaccine appointments for around 30,000 people in the 70-and-older category so far.
Dr. Sarah Moyer with LMDHW estimates the county has vaccinated and/or booked vaccine appointments for around 30,000 people in the 70-and-older category so far. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Those 70 and older who have managed to book an appointment to get the vaccine in Louisville should consider themselves lucky.

There are now more than 21,000 others on Jefferson County’s only vaccine waitlist -- operated by Norton Healthcare -- who are desperate to get the shot.

For Martha Ringo’s husband, getting the vaccine would mean he could finally venture out of the house after being homebound for nearly a year.

“He has multiple myeloma,” Ringo said. “It’s cancer of the bones, the blood and the bone marrow. His immune system is obviously shot, and my fear is if he gets COVID, he’ll die.”

Despite checking for hours every day for nearly a month, Ringo has not been able to book a vaccine appointment in Louisville.

Ringo checks for openings on several sites -- UofLHealth.org, NortonHealthcare.com and BaptistHealth.com. She told WAVE 3 News the systems are not user-friendly, and have kicked her out the three times she has managed to find an available appointment.

“I’m just really frustrated because I go through this for two to three hours a day,” Ringo said. “It’s not like I’m sitting here twiddling my thumbs. He has to have a shot.”

The process also has been frustrating for Ringo’s daughter, Rachele Gilman, who told WAVE 3 News she has seen others get the vaccine who are not in Phase 1B.

“There just needs to be some more effort statewide I think to make this a little more transparent,” Gilman said. “It’s one thing to not be able to get (the shot). It’s another thing to not be able to get it and not know why.”

The Louisville Metro Department of Health and Wellness gets around 13,000 doses from the state each week. Those vaccines are split among the LouVax site and the three healthcare systems assisting with administering the vaccine to people 70 and older, Baptist Health, Norton Healthcare and UofL Health.

The three healthcare systems are notified how many doses they’ll each receive toward the end of the workweek. Officials advised those looking to book a vaccine appointment to check their sites on Thursday and/or Friday for the best chances at finding a slot.

Dr. Sarah Moyer with LMDHW estimates the county has vaccinated and/or booked vaccine appointments for around 30,000 people in the 70-and-older category so far. She added it could take “months” for the county to work its way through everyone in Phase 1B because of the limited number of doses supplied by the state.

To sign up to be on the vaccine waitlist, click here, scroll down to “Schedule your Vaccine,” and if there aren’t any available appointments, the site will give you an option to be added to the waitlist.

Those who do not have access to the internet or a computer are asked to call (502) 861-4499. However, there is currently an automated message asking those who wish to schedule a vaccine appointment to hang up and book online.

Norton Healthcare officials told WAVE 3 News the system is working to ramp up phone lines so people will soon be able to schedule an appointment through the phone, but there is no timeline for when that will happen.

UofL Health sent the following statement to WAVE 3 News regarding vaccine signups and waitlist:

“UofL Health continues to add appointments for COVID-19 vaccines, as supply allows. Earlier this week, we opened 500 appointments and they were filled in 11 minutes.

We encourage people to continue to check uoflhealth.org to see if new appointments are available. A waitlist for vaccine through UofL Health is in development and will soon be accessible through our website.”

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