An unknown number of Cook County residents who had received the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine received a text message asking for proof of treatment, leading to plenty of confusion and concern among those who received them.
Jessica Frank was one of those individuals, saying that she received a text message from a Florida area code that stopped her in her tracks.
“It was a very lengthy wall of text saying that if I don’t do this, my appointment will be canceled,” she recalled.
Frank was one of an unknown number of residents who received the texts, which were sent to individuals for whom the Cook County Health Department’s database did not have records of a first coronavirus dose.
NBC 5 Investigates looked into the texts and found that they were indeed legitimate. The texts asked recipients to send proof of their vaccine ID card in order to schedule their second dose, but Frank, like many others, thought she was being scammed.
“All along we were hearing ‘don’t take pictures, don’t put your card on social media, people can steal it,’” she said. “I feel like it was almost manipulative, like ‘do it, or else.’”
Now, Cook County health officials say they are aware of the concerns, saying they discovered “a number of second dose appointments scheduled without a matching record.”
The department says it asked individuals to provide their record cards to “ensure we are administering the right vaccine at the right interval.”
People like Frank say that they are relieved that the text messages were legitimate, but say that it was still a nerve-wracking experience as they scrambled to set up their second dose appointments.
“She was able to tell me ‘yeah, it’s a real thing, we are seeing this, your appointment will not be canceled,’” she recounted. “’Just make sure you show your card when you get there.’”
According to county officials, there is no central database built to keep track of vaccine doses. To cut down on confusion, Cook County health officials say it’s critical to choose one location for both doses, and for residents to make sure they format their names the same way throughout the entire vaccination process.