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Getting COVID vaccine booster appointments proving difficult

Given the concerns over the omicron variant, many people are looking to get a COVID vaccine booster shot. But that can prove challenging right now.

VANCOUVER, Wash. — Health officials say the struggle to get booster appointments is not because of a lack of vaccine but instead staffing and other issues.

If you are eligible to get a COVID vaccine booster and are having trouble making an appointment, you are not alone. It is frustrating. But in a way, the predicament is understandable.

After the federal government opened up boosters for everyone 18 years old and up, the demand pool increased significantly. And with another new variant out there, concern is up.

Health officials say the booster booking frustration is generally not because of a lack of vaccine, although Washington's secretary of health said he is cautious about ordering it up.

“I think there has been a point where we had more supply than demand so what we've done is to have been careful that we don't overorder or over prescribe vaccine from the federal system,” said Dr. Umair Shah.

RELATED: No, there isn’t a new test to detect the omicron variant
So what's the problem?

It may be the network of providers, allocations to them and staffing to go along with increased demand.

“They may have hesitated for a while especially with the holidays coming up or whatever in terms of making appointments for the booster, but a lot more people may be seeking out booster doses right now and that's why it's a little bit harder for the people to get in,” said Clark County Health Director Dr. Alan Melnick.

In Washington, more than 4.7 million people are fully vaccinated.
Of those, just over a million have gotten an additional, or booster dose.

RELATED: US identifies first omicron variant case in returning traveler

In Oregon, nearly 2.5 million are fully vaccinated and more than 707,000 have gotten an extra or booster shot.

In Clark County, just over 67,000 people have gotten a booster shot. If you're not yet one of them, Melnick said, “I would recommend not giving up and continuing to try and make an appointment because I think whether you get the booster today or next week, it's important that you get it as soon as possible.”

The county health director also recommended starting with your medical provider but also checking other health care systems and pharmacies.  He also said it is OK to mix and match vaccines and to keep that in mind when trying to book the earliest possible appointment.

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