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Summit County Public Health Switches to Lottery System for Vaccine Appointments

syringe and vile of medicine
Summit County Public Health Commissioner Donna Skoda says she's been hearing "heartbreaking stories" from people who ran into technical difficulty when trying to sign up for the vaccine.

Summit County Public Health will be contacting people for COVID-19 vaccines with a lottery system starting March 1.

The health department says demand for appointments has been so high, it would occasionally overload its phone and internet systems. Health Commissioner Donna Skoda says about 110,000 people are currently on their vaccine list. They’re currently working out how many they will contact each week.

Skoda calls it a “work in progress,” which should alleviate some of the issues people have been facing online.

Public Health Commissioner Donna Skoda
Summit County and vaccines

“I heard some heartbreaking stories [such as] people sat for two hours and watched it spin, and thought they were getting an appointment, and they didn’t. So clearly, the system couldn’t handle it; and I don’t know if any system could handle that kind of volume," Skoda said. "I encourage anyone [who is] having a hard time getting scheduled to just call our [main] line and tell them you’re having difficulty.”

Under current state guidelines, people 65 and older are eligible for vaccines, along with school employees and those with certain medical conditions. Skoda says the lottery will continue to pull names from those on the vaccine registry; people do not need to sign up again.

Once selected, a person will get instructions by phone or email on how to schedule an appointment. More information is here.

Kabir Bhatia is a senior reporter for Ideastream Public Media's arts & culture team.