BOISE, Idaho — Vaccine appointments at St. Luke's and Saint Alphonsus have all been booked. Idahoans over the age of 65 were able to start booking their appointments for the vaccine at 8 a.m. on Monday.
St. Luke's Health System learned the vaccine allocations would not match the original projections and it had to adjust the number of appointments available. People are encouraged to check back another time as St. Luke's will only open appointments based on the amount of vaccine it receives, according to Anita Kissee, the public relations manager.
St. Luke's says to not call hospitals or clinics trying to get an appointment for the COVID-19 vaccine.
IMPORTANT: All appointments for #COVID19vaccine at @StLukesHealth are now gone as of right now. We will add more appointments as we get more vaccine allocated to us. Please check back another time. Thank you. https://t.co/YAw9yTIfv7— Anita Kissée (@StLukesAnita) February 1, 2021
The Saint Alphonsus website says there are currently no appointments available and to check back soon. If you have questions about the vaccine or need help scheduling in the future, you can call 1-888-578-2684. The wait times may be longer due to high call volume.
Due to this population's size, it will take a few weeks before everyone in this demographic who wants a vaccine can get one due to a limited supply of doses.
There are roughly 269,000 Idahoans ages 65 and older, and Idaho only receives about 25,000 doses each week.
"We had unprecedented interest in the vaccine," St. Luke's Health System Service Line Medical Director for Primary and Specialty care Laura McGeorge said. "We want to really ensure that we have the vaccine either on hand or ordered on a route that we can confirm that before we schedule."
While some may be disappointed to not have made an appointment, St. Luke's Senior Director of Pharmacy Scott Milner said there is a silver lining.
"There are 1,500 fewer people in line waiting to get vaccines every week. As next week comes, we will open up more appointments as we learn what inventory we have and what things we can accommodate with the public demand," Milner said.
Primary Health is scheduling appointments by invitation. They are reaching out to the most vulnerable patients first based on age and health history.
A spokesperson for Primary Health says, "We are committed to vaccinating all patients as soon as possible based on vaccine supply."
The Department of Veteran Affairs in Boise gets vaccine doses directly from the CDC, meaning the supply is not from the state allocation. Still, they, too, are having the same issue with a limited supply of doses.
"As of right now, we don't have active appointments available until around March 1st, and that just depends on vaccine supply. Right now, we are able to open a lot more spots than we actually have a vaccine supply. So, although we are doing ok with bookings, it is getting further and further booked out," VA COVID Coordinator Lindsay Kaster said.
To schedule an appointment with the VA call 208-422-149 or 208-422-100 ext. 1499.
Heritage Health in Northern Idaho also sees similar issues with vaccine appointments filling up quickly. According to CEO, Michael Baker they have received 220 new allocated doses for this week, and of the 77 doses that we have available for today, 100% have been filled. Patients who are calling are being placed on a waiting list, which will be used to schedule future vaccines as they are distributed.
"We are thrilled to be a part of this historic process of vaccinating our community. The demand is overwhelming, and supplies are limited. Idaho isn't receiving enough vaccines yet to allow for mass vaccinations, but our efforts with the doses we have are making a huge difference," Baker said.
Gov. Brad Little will be hosting a statewide COVID-19 discussion with AARP tomorrow to discuss vaccine availability and distribution.
Idaho Department of Health and Welfare will also hold its weekly briefing on the vaccine in Idaho tomorrow.