Rochester pharmacy says it's ready for expected higher vaccine demand

Rachel Mills
Updated: March 30, 2021 05:16 PM
Created: March 30, 2021 04:25 PM

(ABC 6 News) -- If you are 16 or older, you are now eligible for the Covid-19 vaccine. Tuesday was the first day that vaccine eligibility opened up to all Minnesotans, and the state sign-up website was very busy.

There have been over 900,000 signups for the Covid-19 vaccine connector tool since it launched last month, and now the Minnesota Department of Health is encouraging everyone 16 and older to sign up for an appointment.   

One local pharmacy manager said he is excited to get more people vaccinated.

"We're just happy to be able to help the community out," Philip Hommerding, owner of Hunt's pharmacy, said.  

Hunts pharmacy is in northeast Rochester. Hommerding said so far, things are going smoothly. 

"We haven't got enough vaccine to be overwhelmed, but I think it definitely increased our workload," Hommerding said.  

Hunt's is part of the state's retail pharmacy program and receives a maximum of two vaccine shipments a week. Hommerding said his waitlist has over 600 names.

"We've been kind of taking it as first come first serve. But if we've got somebody who is in priority group one, we'll try to prioritize them still and get them in line a little faster," Hommerding said.

Hunt's is taking vaccine appointments over the phone for now.

"We've got kind of a calling list, so we've got folks calling us and we just kind of take them as they come, put them on our waiting list, and then when we get the vaccine, we put them in for an appointment. We call them and schedule something," Hommerding said.

So Hunt's Pharmacy employees were busy answering calls all morning. 

"Absolutely. Lots of phone calls. Every time they change eligibility we get lots of phone calls," Hommerding said.

And he said some of those calls stand out.

"I talked to a woman who signed up her 17-year-old and her birthday is in two weeks. I thought it was kind of funny that mom would be excited for an 18th birthday so her child could get the vaccine and the child may be looking forward to that," Hommerding said.

Though eligibility opened up to those 16+, both the Johnson & Johnson and the Moderna vaccines are not recommended for anyone under 18.

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