BELLEVILLE, Ill. – Thousands of people waiting for their COVID-19 vaccine in Belleville had a long wait in a very long line. Officials running the operation say folks who did not follow instructions caused the problems.
The line of cars and people waiting for a vaccine stretched off the Belle-Clair Fairgrounds & Expo Center property and snaked its way through nearby neighborhoods.
Ralph Siade waited with his wife.
“I don’t think it’s handled correctly,” he said. “One line’s moving, moving, and moving; and the other one’s standing still.”
Mary Pollock waited a long time but did not lose her sense of humor.
“The timing is kind of long. We should have brought dinner,” she said.
The people in charge scheduled an extra 500 people Thursday and, for the first time, administered second doses of the vaccine.
“I don’t know why they would schedule this many vaccines on a single day,” said Mary Kay Davis.
Those in charge said was not why the lines were so long. It’s because some people arrived early. Really, really early.
“We had people show up this morning at 9 o’clock for a six o’clock appointment,” St. Clair County Chairman Mark Kern said. “If you did that at your normal doctor’s office, you’d have a line of traffic in front of your doctor’s office.”
Other folks did not get an appointment and arrived whenever they wanted.
“I don’t approve of that,” said Vicki Doestsch, who waited her turn.
What took only 15 to 20 minutes for the first vaccine three weeks ago took hours for the second dose. But it was worth the wait to get the shot.
“They actually should be turned away but they probably won’t be. They should be,” Siade said.
Officials were warning, if this happens in the future, people may be turned away and told to return at their appointment time.
“We have a few rules to follow and one is show up on the time we give,” Kern said.