Cutting the COVID vaccine line legally

Published: Apr. 9, 2021 at 5:55 PM EDT
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RUTLAND, Vt. (WCAX) - While vaccination signups will open to Vermonters 30-plus on Monday, officials say that even after you’re registered, it’s possible to jump ahead before your scheduled appointment.

“Ohh I was happy,” said William Humber of Rutland, who was able to get on the Rutland Regional Medical Center’s new vaccine standby list. Humber was among those who sign up every Monday to get on the list. If there are extra doses and they can get to the clinic in half an hour or less, it’s theirs.

“Just a relief to get the vaccine earlier,” Humber said. He says he found out about the list through a friend. “She got it and then some of her friends got it and then I got on the waitlist, kind of once it became public through the website.”

RRMC’s Fran Sun says it’s part of a protocol to make sure doses are not wasted. “The state carefully allocates us to make sure that they give us enough for everybody we can vaccinate in a day. This is only above and beyond that. It’s definitely not taking a dose from someone who is eligible at the moment,” she said.

Clinics and pharmacies contact people within group 1A, or someone scheduled for another time slot that can come in early. But if they can’t reach anyone, someone who may not yet be age-eligible can get that shot.

“I have said this multiple times. At the end of the day, if there is a leftover shot, get it into somebody’s arm,” said AHS Secretary Mike Smith.

When eligible for the vaccine, some people say the quickest appointment they can get by signing up through the state’s online portal is almost a month out. But Smith says that after you make an appointment, check back frequently for additional openings or check with pharmacies that operate separately from the state portal and you may get in sooner. “When we see slots fill up in an area, we’ll add more slots to that area despite what the allocation is,” Smith said. He says you do have to cancel one appointment to make another and urged people to call the health department for assistance. He also recommends checking for availability in other areas, not just close to home. “The younger age groups are being much more mobile, and to the point they will travel to Essex County.”

The state also allows people to wait outside clinics at the end of the day for their chance at a dose. And there are now more places to get vaccinated. Shaw’s began offering shots Friday. And Rite Aid and Price Chopper will be starting Monday.

Smith says their ability to open additional appointments is dependent upon vaccine allocation, which fluctuates. Right now, appointments are open through May 11 and the average wait time is 14 days.

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