PHOENIX — The day before Christmas, Arizona's Department of Public Health reported more than 7,000 new cases of COVID-19 and 115 deaths. Hospitals continue to see new cases flood hospitals. As of Thursday, only 132 ICU beds remain open statewide.
For many healthcare workers on the frontline of the pandemic, this holiday’s prized gift is receiving their COVID-19 vaccine, but some of them are having trouble scheduling an appointment even though there are openings.
“I really have tried to make it a priority to get this vaccine, but I only have so much energy at this point,” said Valley ER critical care nurse Nicole K.
The veteran nurse is exhausted. Nicole is from California and works as a traveling nurse, which brought her to Arizona. For months she has been on the frontlines, seeing patient after patient struggle to capture their last breath.
“It’s heartbreaking to see so many people so sick,” said Nicole.
She views the vaccine as a beacon of hope and quickly completed her pre-screen process through Maricopa County, but her hope quickly turned into despair after she couldn’t schedule an appointment through the county’s system.
“It continuously kicks you out and says there’s no appointments available," she said. “County Health said they are just overwhelmed and that we are all in the same boat. I said we are not in the same boat. I work every single day with COVID patients, we are not in the same boat.”
According to Maricopa county health officials, eligible healthcare workers assigned to two of the five dispensing sites couldn’t sign up due to the system’s inability to link their names with the location. Other’s having trouble because the system couldn’t verify their eligibility because of the email address on file.
In a statement to 12 News, ADHS said:
"ADHS designed the vaccine management system in collaboration with counties to connect eligible individuals with appointments near them. Counties provide inputs on locations and available appointments and direct eligible individuals to the system to make appointments. We are aware of some seeing out-of-town options rather than or in addition to the intended vaccination locations in the Phoenix metro area. We are working with Maricopa County to resolve the issue, which stems from how eligible individuals and locations are entered in the system. In some cases, events in other counties may have earlier dates than available appointments at the intended vaccination location in Maricopa County that healthcare providers are opting to select.
We also understand this is a new system, and our goal is to make it as easy as possible for eligible individuals to schedule appointments and help people get their questions answered. Because of that, we have a patient portal user guide posted on our website and staff a help line staffed from 8-5 weekdays at 602-542-1000."
As of Thursday, more than 12,000 people have received the vaccine in Maricopa County.
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