Wednesday, February 24, 2021
Seniors Jump on Vaccines Early
It’s hoped that the vaccines can get seniors like these ladies back to enjoying an active social life at The Senior Connection.
Tuesday, February 2, 2021



Idaho’s seniors got a jump start on scheduling COVID-19 vaccine appointments Monday morning—the first day those 65 and older became eligible for the vaccine.

More than 100,000 people went online early Monday morning to get appointments through St. Luke’s myChart. And many others jammed the phones, the volume shutting them down.

The state continues to do better, with just 428 new cases of coronavirus reported on Monday for a total of 163,165. Ten more Idahoans have died of COVID bringing the death toll to 1,735. Blaine County reported 24 new cases on Sunday and Monday for a total of 1,968.

By 8:20 a.m. hospitals throughout the St. Luke’s system were out of appointments.

St. Luke’s was supposed to open scheduling at 8 a.m. But dozens of people were able to jump on and begin scheduling vaccines about 7.

And, when another 1,500 slots opened up at a Treasure Valley hospital about noon, they were snapped up in six minutes.

Dr. Laura McGeorge said St. Luke’s opened the scheduling process early to ensure it was working by the time it was supposed to.

Scott Milner, senior director of Pharmacy at St. Luke’s, acknowledged that the process must have been frustrating for people.

“But what happened today means 1,500-plus fewer people in line waiting to get vaccines,” he said.

There are more than 269,000 Idahoans 65 and older, and the state has only been getting 21,000 doses a week from the federal government.

Across the state, health care providers asked people under 75 or 80 to wait and let the very elderly and medically frail get their appointments first. But that didn’t stop younger seniors from claiming their appointments on Monday.

No more St. Luke’s appointments can be made until the next shipment of doses comes in to ensure the number of appointments matches the number of doses. When the next shipment will arrive is not known.

“Today we had a lot of people looking for appointments. We are only opening appointments that we have inventory for or that we know a shipment is on its way,” said Milner.

Saint Alphonsus Hospital in Boise began scheduling appointments for seniors last week. But it had to cancel scheduled appointments at its Nampa hospital and clinics after it failed to receive enough vaccine.

Those wishing to schedule vaccinations who did not connect on Monday are asked to check back periodically. There likely will be few, if any announcements, as there were with Monday’s rollout, said McGeorge.

“It will be a constantly rolling scheduling process,” she said. “We’re not going to be continually  announcing when we open vaccine. We know there’s enough demand out there.”

Generally speaking, the bulk of appointments will be offered on Monday, Milner said. People might find some cancellations later in the week.

Signing up on myChart is most efficient because you don’t have to get in a line like you do on phone calls, McGeorge said. Individuals may also contact South Central Public Health District and local pharmacies to schedule appointments, but they also have limited doses.

In addition to seniors, there are many health care workers, teachers, dental hygienists and others who are eligible to schedule vaccinations. Some waited to see how the vaccinations went with family and friends and now have an appetite for a vaccination, Milne said.

"Don’t sign up at more than one place," McGeorge said.

“We’re holding a vaccine for you and, if you don’t show up, that dose is potentially lost,” she added.

Also, make sure you have not gotten a flu, pneumonia, shingles or other vaccine within two weeks—people have been turned away because of that.

Don’t take Advil or Ibuprofen before you receive your vaccination as it could interfere with your immune response and the effectiveness of your vaccine. It is, however, okay to take the drugs after you’ve received the vaccine to relieve pain at the injection site, muscle aches, headaches and other side effects.

And don’t schedule your booster shot online. The booster shot will be scheduled at the time of your first dose.

“If it’s not your tier, don’t sign up,” said McGeorge. “You’ll be turned away and you’re taking a spot from someone else.”

To date 103,378 Idahoans have received at least one dose of vaccine; 22,800 people have received both. That’s less than 6 percent of the state’s 1.787 million population.

In Blaine County 2,196 people have received at least one dose with 202 of them receiving both. That’s about 10 percent of Blaine County’s population.

Those searching for vaccines are asked not to call or visit hospitals or clinics to inquire about the vaccine. Updates will be posted at


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