Phone lines slammed first day Coastal Health District’s vaccination appointments begin

Phone lines slammed first day Coastal Health District’s vaccination appointments begin

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - The Coastal Health District began scheduling COVID-19 vaccine appointments Thursday for the expanded first phase. This includes those 65 and older, their caregivers and first responders.

Almost as soon as the phone lines opened at 8 a.m., health departments within the district where overwhelmed with calls. Officials say they know this hasn’t been a smooth process to start, but with it so new they expected challenges. They tell us they are working hard to be better tomorrow.

“Hundreds of calls are coming through every 30 minutes.”

It may sound quiet, but all lines of the Chatham County phone bank were busy today. Employees worked non-stop to answer the calls.

One of those callers was David Blitch.

“I made several calls and it goes to voicemail and there’s no mailbox, it’s not set up so you can’t leave a number to get a call back,” Blitch said.

He and others say they tried to get through to schedule a vaccine for hours. Health department leaders say they are doing their best but know it hasn’t been ideal.

“We will follow up just as quick as we can. We understand the frustration. We want to treat everyone as if they were our own mother, father, sister, or brother because you know we always want to put yourself in someone else’s position. I could be on the other end of the line experiencing that same frustration so we’re here for you, we’ll get to you as quick as we can and we just appreciate that when we can we’re going to take the best care of you that we can,” Business Support and Billing Analysis Janice Guglielmi said.

To help speed up the process, they have some taking information while others are calling those people back to make the appointments which takes time. Officials say they are working to expand their call capacity are looking into an online scheduling system. They say their focus is on scheduling these appointments and ask you don’t give up.

“I’ll keep trying until I get vaccinated because I’ll either go to the VA, or to my local doctor or back to the health department. At some point I feel like I’ll get vaccinated,” Blitch said.

Leaders say they are learning as they go and ask you have patience as they took thousands of calls today alone.

We do know they will book vaccine appointments tomorrow from 8-2 and then staff will work Saturday from 8:30 until 5 booking appointments. But they also say you can reach out to your healthcare provider, or pharmacy to see if they are offering the vaccine as well.

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