With more demand than supply of COVID vaccine, this NKY vet's 'persistence' paid off

A bit of luck helped, too
Posted at 4:57 PM, Jan 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-08 19:18:35-05

ERLANGER, Ky. — When Jack Duncan called the Northern Kentucky Health Department's COVID-19 vaccine hotline, the agency told him there were no appointments available as doses continue to arrive at facilities across the region.

That didn't stop him.

After multiple phone calls around the region looking for an opening, the 80-year-old Air Force veteran called WCPO Wednesday asking if there was anything else he could do.

"You can see all my scribbling," he said, pointing to a sheet of notepaper. "These are telephone numbers that I called."

Kentucky residents 70 years and older became eligible to receive the vaccine earlier this month. Hospitals, health departments, federally qualified health centers and pharmacies are among the Northern Kentucky facilities that began receiving and administering the vaccines last month, but supply and personnel resources limit how quickly everyone who is eligible can get the injections.

The health official Duncan spoke with advised him to register online so he would be notified when more appointments became available.

But for those like Duncan who do not consider themselves computer savvy, signing up online only put another barrier between him and an already difficult-to-reach lifeline.

"I don't own a computer. I have no abilities on the computer," he told WCPO.

RESOURCES: Where to sign up for the COVID vaccine

WCPO put Duncan in contact with health care workers at HealthPoint Family Care, where, again, Duncan was told there were no available appointments.

"She just told me they were filled up now," he said. "They had no openings now, but would I be receptive to a cancellation if they had one? And I said, 'Do it.'"

The employee took his phone number and said they would call him if someone else canceled their appointment.

It didn't take long for Duncan's phone to ring. The next day, he was lining up to receive the first of two injections for the COVID-19 vaccine.

Robin Feltner with NKY Health told WCPO that Duncan's experience was "probably rare."

"There is usually no vaccine left over," Feltner said.

But Duncan said his experience tells him that persistence can pay off.

"I'm thankful, very thankful," he said. "It's amazing... Be persistent. Be very persistent."

It's that persistence, he said, that "means the difference between lying on a ventilator for two or three months and then eventually dying, or it means surviving another however many years the Good Lord says."