What’s behind canceled at-home COVID booster appointments

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — A mix-up with COVID-19 booster appointments has turned into a big headache for some people who are homebound. People who can’t easily leave the house made appointments to have Monroe Ambulance come to them with the shots, but then those appointments were canceled.

The county told News10NBC Reporter Stephanie Duprey that 10 people were affected by this mix up. The two people she spoke with said they were called by a county representative and were told the county ran out of funding to make their appointment happen. The county said that’s not the case and they’re making calls to reschedule everyone this week.

"When I found out that Monroe Ambulance would come to the home, I spent three days calling the county health department and couldn’t get through,” said Rochester resident Teryle Watson.

Watson is paralyzed after a spinal surgery that went wrong, so getting out of the house, even to get boosted, is difficult. She said the process to get an appointment wasn’t easy.

"I decided to call Monroe Ambulance myself and they scheduled me for December 24,” Watson said.

Monroe County partnered with Monroe Ambulance to create a booster program for homebound people. Watson says she got a call Tuesday saying her appointment for Dec. 24 was canceled and the reason behind it.

"Someone who said she worked for the county, and she said those were federal funds the county was given to manage and that they county ran out of money,” Watson added.

Another News10NBC viewer told Duprey his 94-year-old mother who was also originally scheduled for Dec. 24 also had a difficult cancellation.

"Then, I come to find out, that the following Monday which is the 27th there are an additional eight people that are scheduled that she will l have to call and cancel and that there are no more appointments available and you’re out of luck,” said Brighton resident Scot Graham-Raad.

A spokesperson from Monroe Ambulance told Duprey they were not making these phone calls to cancel appointments, and that they pick up booster vaccines from the fleet center to bring to different homes. They found out the county closed the Fleet Center for the holidays, which would make these booster appointments impossible.

So, Duprey got ahold of the county to figure out what was going on. In a statement the county said, "Apparently the agency doing our scheduling for this service incorrectly scheduled appointments on the 24th, which is a legal holiday for the county. So the fleet center workers prepping the vaccine are not available."

The county did say funding for this program would expire on Dec. 31, but it wants the project to continue. The county said, "We are also working diligently on continuing the program so there is no break in service after the first of the year. As of yet, that is not 100% confirmed. Until it is certain, we will not be making any new appointments for January."

County Health Department officials say they will call everyone who wasn’t scheduled properly and get them boosted in the next week or so.

Graham-Raad told Duprey his mother has an at-home appointment for later this week.