Loophole in registration process allowed some to cut the line for vaccines in DeKalb

DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — DeKalb County health officials said they are vaccinating about a thousand people a day at the county’s two drive-up vaccinating sites.

CEO Michael Thurmond said the county currently has about 8,000 vaccines, with more coming, but there are still 10,000 people on the waiting list to get an appointment.

But a loophole in the system is slowing up the process -- and allowing some people who were not legitimately registered for appointments to game the system.

Channel 2′s Richard Elliot learned that some people trying to find vaccine appointments for their loved ones are actually doing everyone else a disservice.

In DeKalb, if someone has already legitimately registered to get an appointment, they are sent a link to schedule the appointment. Many people are sending that link to friends and family, so a lot of people have managed to get by using that email, essentially cutting the line.

“We have individuals in the community that are sharing that appointment link with their friends and family when they don’t have a confirmed registration,” health official Eric Nickens said. “When someone comes on-site having done that, that just bogs down operations for those people who have appointments.”

That makes it more difficult for frontline health care workers to get the vaccinations they need.

Nurse Sheila Gorman didn’t like to hear that some people are trying to game the system to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

“I think that’s despicable,” Gorman said. “It’s not all about us. It’s about people. And you shouldn’t scam the system because, karma.”

DeKalb officials are working to make sure the glitch is fixed.

[SPECIAL SECTION: COVID-19 Vaccine in Georgia]

DeKalb cut off registration last Saturday because of the overwhelming demand.

Channel 2′s Steve Gehlbach was at the vaccination site in Stonecrest, where Thurmond got his first shot on Friday. He’s trying to encourage everyone to get vaccinated as soon as they can.

“We still recognize there are members in our community hesitant to get the vaccine,” Thurmond said. “We need to, number one, let them know it’s safe and it’s effective, and need you to come by as soon as you can and get your vaccination.”

Gehlbach asked Dr. Sandra Ford, the district’s health director, about when more appointments might open up. She said they hope to be through that 10,000 on the waiting list by the end of next week. Health officials plan to work extended hours at the Stonecrest site on Monday, the MLK holiday, to help catch up.

[LINK: Where to find the COVID-19 vaccine in Georgia]

They will start taking registrations again on the website after they get through the waiting list.

The county also plans to move from the Stonecrest parking lot they are currently operating in to inside the old Sam’s Club to get out of the elements and be able to get through more appointments faster.

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