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Stevens County residents say getting COVID-19 vaccine appointments is confusing, convoluted

A Kettle Falls couple said they weren't getting answers on how to sign up for an appointment. The store couldn't confirm if they even had any available.

COLVILLE, Wash. — As Spokane County is getting in shipments of the COVID-19 vaccine, Stevens County residents say actually getting an appointment for a shot can be frustrating.

One family says, despite being eligible, the local pharmacy is making the vaccine impossible for them to get.

There are only two places to get the coronavirus vaccine in Stevens County: Providence Clinic and the Colville Safeway. 

"He does only have 25% of his heart muscle after a series of heart attacks," Cynthia Rushton said about her husband Robert. "That was 10 years ago and they gave him 10 years, so we're worried about that."

The Kettle Falls couple is eligible to get the vaccine in Phase 1B - Tier 1. They both have health issues, so making sure they are able to get the vaccine, or at least information about booking appointments, is essential. 

"Nobody's doing anything, nobody has the answers," Rushton said "It's just kind of frustrating so I picked up and called you guys at KREM 2."

Rushton said the Colville Safeway directed her to go to the Washington State Department of Health website, but it has no option to book an appointment. The Safeway website doesn't either. After a call to the pharmacy, Rushton was told again to book an appointment through the Department of Health. 

"To me the answer would have been better, 'I don't know I'll get back to you,' instead of just running me around in a circle," she added. "I figure if they're doing it to me, they're doing it to everybody."

At Safeway, pharmacy employees referenced a piece of paper with directions on how to book an appointment. It gave the URL link to the DOH website

When asked why they keep referring the public to the DOH, the pharmacist said that is how you make appointments. When asked if Safeway had appointments available, a representative would not answer. 

"Why are they not doing appointments for anyone who is eligible?" Rushton asked.

A Safeway representative said at this time they don't know how many vaccines they are going to get, and recommended people check the website often. 

"I call them and they don't want to help me understand," Rushton added. "You have an important job, why am I spending hours and days trying to find out a simple answer."

The way scheduling an appointment is set up is first come first serve. If there are no spots left on the DOH's list of scheduling links, all appointment times have been filled.

With no answers from the pharmacy, Safeway spokesperson Tairsa Worman said the company will stop handing out the flyer if it is confusing to the public. She also agreed to be more transparent about the vaccination process as well and make sure to say that they are booked solid, instead of just referring people to the DOH website. 

"I need to speak out to get Safeway corporation to get in gear," Rushton said. "I am afraid for myself, but I am more afraid for my husband."

Credit: Morgan Trau
Cynthia and Robert Rushton