Midlands seniors see mixed success as they attempt to get the COVID-19 vaccine

Midlands seniors see mixed success as they attempt to get the COVID-19 vaccine

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - With a shortage of COVID-19 vaccine doses and reported challenges with bureaucracy, getting an appointment for a vaccine is no sure thing for those ages 65 and older.

Sumter veteran Gary Wieselman said he attempted to get an appointment on Monday with a private clinic near his home. He said he was told none were available and was instructed to come by the clinic in the event there were leftover doses.

He said there were none.

“I found the process to be a series of quantum leaps, instead of being a linear process,” he said.

He said he proceeded to make a series of phone calls, before finally getting an appointment with the VA Hospital in Columbia an hour away from Sumter.

He got his first dose on Tuesday but lamented the challenges of getting there.

“Right now, it’s so fragmented. Everyone that’s giving vaccines from the grocery stores to the drug chains have a different registration site so it’s pretty fragmented. If I had one wish, it would be that it’s linear with fewer gatekeepers in between,” he said.

The Columbia VA hospital website states:

VA-enrolled Veterans can:

  • SEND a secure message via myHealtheVet to your VA provider with your interest.
  • CALL our vaccination appointment line: 803-776-4000, DIAL 1, and then extension CURE (2873).
    • Hours of operation: Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Meanwhile, Lexington resident Ruth Zachry said her attempt to get an appointment with Lexington Medical Center went smoothly.

She said she is now waiting for the center to reach back out about a date and time.

She said she was computer literate, but recognized the challenges presented for those who are not familiar with computers.

Zachry called getting the vaccine a responsibility because she is familiar with loss. Her husband lost his battle with cancer before the pandemic.

“It’s very important, I got to hold his hand when he passed and all I could think about was the number of people who did not have that opportunity like I did,” she said.

For those who are not comfortable with computers, DHEC is offering a vaccine helpline for appointments.

The number is 866-365-8110.

Copyright 2021 WIS. All rights reserved.