Montgomery County residents are being asked to not share their COVID-19 vaccine appointment registration links with friends and family, or on social media, when they receive them via email from the county.
County Commissioner Dr. Valerie Arkoosh on Wednesday pleaded with residents to keep the link to themselves, telling them it isn’t moral or ethical when people have been waiting their turn to receive the vaccine if they are not eligible for Phase 1A.
“If you receive an appointment link, that link is only meant for you based on your eligibility and whether it is your first or second dose. People are taking these links and posting them on social media and this creates the opportunity for people to jump the line and people who are not eligible to register,” Arkoosh said.
Montgomery County received 3,500 fewer doses of the vaccine this week than the week before, leaving the county with close to zero doses until the next shipment. Because of the lack of vaccines, Arkoosh stressed the importance of those who are not eligible for the vaccine to wait their turn.
“Given the scarcity of the vaccine, we need to pull together as a community and make sure that our most vulnerable get vaccinated first. There will be enough vaccine for all of us that want it, but there is not enough today,” Arkoosh said.
However, there is also the roadblock imposed by the Pennsylvania Department of Health, which requests that those who register with Montgomery County to get the vaccine not be turned away.
“Technically, we have been told by the Pennsylvania Department of Health that no county is supposed to turn away people who don’t live or work in that county,” Arkoosh said. “So it is possible to register on that site even if you don’t live or work in the county.”
Arkoosh explained further that the website the state requires Montgomery County to use, called “PrepMod,” doesn’t allow an “individual unique link” for those who register for an appointment.
“So when we send out a link for a set of appointments, we send that link out to a number of people we have vaccine doses for. If no one shared the link it would be okay. But unfortunately, people are sharing their links and it is possible for other people if they do it quickly enough to jump in and make an appointment for themselves,” Arkoosh said.
If someone is caught using someone else’s link and isn’t eligible for the vaccine at this time, they are asked to leave the vaccination site and wait for when they would become eligible.
“What we are checking is if they’re there because they are a healthcare worker, they have to show proper identification. If they’re there because they are over 65, they have to show proof of their age. If they’re there because they are under 65 but have one of those specific listed pre-existing conditions, we are asking them to sign an attestation statement, attesting that they have one of those conditions,” Arkoosh said.
Arkoosh insisted those who get the link from social media or from a friend or family member should not use it and instead wait until they are eligible to get the link from the county.
“I am just asking people to be honest and not jump the line. If you didn’t get the link from the county then you should not have the link,” Arkoosh concluded.