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Parents face challenges while searching for Pfizer vaccine appointments

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SUN PRAIRIE (WKOW) — UW Health officials have said all three available vaccines are effective, so it doesn’t matter which one people 18 and older get. However, for eligible 16- and 17-year-olds, getting the Pfizer shot is the only option.

The FDA’s emergency authorization for the Pfizer vaccine includes people 16 and older, while authorizations for the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccine do not. That means parents are having to search around to find the right type of appointment for their kids.

“The difficulty for me was to just figure out which facilities were offering which vaccine,” Sun Prairie mom Misty Cole said. She was looking for an appointment for her 17-year-old son for more than two weeks.

“I did make an appointment initially,” she said. “The facility called me the next day and said, ‘Oh, I’m so sorry, we don’t have Pfizer. We only have Moderna. We can’t vaccinate your son.”

She said the news was disappointing because she knew she’d have to start her search over, but Cole said she knew persistence would eventually pay off.

“A lot of websites you have to refresh and refresh and refresh,” she said. “It may take a week, week and a half or two weeks, but you will find an appointment.”

Fewer than 24 hours after she found out about the first appointment being canceled, Cole was able to book an appointment for her son to get a Pfizer shot at SSM Health.

“It feels very reassuring,” she said. “In a way, it feels like just another vaccination, another health care appointment, but I want to provide him with any safety net I can.”

While Cole was able to eventually find an appointment for a Pfizer vaccine, she said figuring out which vaccine specific sites were giving out was sometimes challenging.

“On some websites, it’s right up front. It’s really easy to find,” she said. “In some places, you have to dig a little bit or make some phone calls to find out what they’re offering.”

So her advice to other parents looking for a Pfizer appointment for their kids is to talk to other parents and crowdsource information.

“Call around, ask all your friends, ask people that you know for help because the appointments are there if you know how to find them,” she said.”

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