Why’s It Taking so Long to Get a COVID-19 Vaccine Appointment?

Photo of line at COVID-19 vaccination site

If you’re eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine but have not yet received an invitation to get the shot, you might be wondering why it’s taking so long.

The reason is simple: Demand far exceeds supply.

What’s supply like in our region?

MU Health Care and other local vaccinators receive COVID-19 vaccine supply from the state of Missouri. Because it was designated as one of the state’s high-throughput vaccination sites in early February, MU Health Care expects to receive up to 8,000 doses a month.

Others in the community — including Boone Health, Columbia/Boone County Public Health and Human Services (PHHS) and local pharmacies — get smaller allocations as well. Additionally, the National Guard coordinates with public health officials to host mass vaccination events in the region. Supply at these events can be up to 5,000 doses.

What’s demand like in our region?

Taken together, that sounds like a lot of vaccine. However, there are more than 50,000 people on our vaccine interest survey, a joint effort by MU Health Care, Boone Health and Columbia/Boone County PHHS, and that number grows by about 2,000 each week.

During any given week, there are about 30,000 people who are eligible for the vaccine on the survey, so you can see why it might take a while to get to everyone.

What can I do to get vaccinated?

If you haven’t filled out our survey, that is the first step. You can do it online at muhealth.org/covid-vaccine-survey or by contacting our call center at (573) 771-CARE (2273).

You also can visit the state’s Missouri Vaccine Navigator to sign up to receive notifications about the National Guard mass vaccination events.

Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans’ Hospital holds a COVID-19 vaccine clinic for enrolled eligible veterans from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday at its medical center at 800 Hospital Drive in Columbia. Enrolled eligible veterans must call (573) 814-6000, ext. 54300, to make an appointment.

Vaccinating the community is a team effort, so we encourage you to sign up on multiple lists so you can accept the first invitation you’re offered.

How are people selected from the survey?

In the case of the survey hosted by MU Health Care, people who sign up are sorted into the appropriate tier or phase based on the state of Missouri’s distribution plan. Once MU Health Care, Boone Health or Columbia/Boone County PHHS receive vaccine supply, we will open appointment spots based on the number of doses we receive.

We will then use a process to select people from eligible tiers and offer them appointment invitations. The process involves assigning a random number to each survey submission and then adding points for the length of time that person has been on the survey list. We also try to group couples whenever both people are eligible and in the survey.

How do I get my appointment invitation?

When you’re selected, you will be notified by phone or email. We wish we could give you a specific date when that will happen, but there are too many variables to make an accurate prediction. Just know that we are doing everything in our power to fairly distribute the vaccine to as many people as possible as quickly as possible.

In the meantime, we will send an informational update to everyone remaining on the survey each Monday to let them know about upcoming vaccination opportunities.

Read more stories like this