Alabama working to improve vaccine scheduling process

(Laura Bowen)
Published: Jan. 12, 2021 at 1:26 PM CST
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Gov. Kay Ivey says the high volume of calls to the state’s COVID-19 vaccine scheduling hotline is prompting action.

On Monday, Ivey tweeted that they are creating an online portal to improve registration capabilities.

In the meantime, health leaders ask that you only call the hotline if you are eligible, meaning if you are a health care worker or a first responder or are 75 years or older.

The hotline number is 1-855-566-5333. ADPH asks the public not to call this appointment line to schedule a vaccine UNLESS they are in an eligible group: health care workers, people age 75 and older, law enforcement officers or firefighters.

“The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) knows that many Alabamians are ready to receive the COVID-19 vaccine and appreciates the patience of all citizens during this time. The demand for COVID-19 vaccine continues to exceed supply as Alabama has more than 326,000 healthcare workers and nearly 350,000 people who qualify for a vaccine because they are 75 years old and older. Priority access to vaccine cannot be granted to other groups of people as ADPH follows the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) for the allocation of this limited supply,” ADPH said in a statement. “While trying to address the needs of Alabamians in the currently identified groups, ADPH is working to improve COVID-19 vaccine scheduling capabilities by creating an online registration portal in addition to its toll-free hotline. On January 8, ADPH announced that appointments are being taken for specified groups to receive COVID-19 vaccine at county health departments beginning January 18 through a statewide COVID-19 Vaccine Scheduling Hotline.”

More information on the vaccine and eligibility can be found at the Alabama Department of Public Health website.

ADPH says the hotline received over 1.1 million calls in the first day of being open to the public last week. The line continues to get an “overwhelming amount of calls.”

Telephone switchboards at hospitals across the state are being overwhelmed by people asking about appointments to get the vaccine. ADPH says these hospitals are not the place to call, and, in doing so, callers are “creating an obstacle to patient care.”

Do not call your local hospital about vaccine.

Health officials said hospital phone switchboards at hospitals across the state have been overwhelmed by people asking about vaccine appointments. ADPH says these hospitals are not the place to call, and callers are “creating an obstacle to patient care.”

“Due to the overwhelming amount of calls, our target population cannot get through to schedule their appointments,” ADPH said last week.

A spokeswoman for Baptist Health says they have received a number of calls since Friday. She says they have made some staffing adjustments to handle the high call volume.

Vaccinations for residents who are 75 or older, as well as first responders, will begin on Jan. 18 as part of the next vaccination phase. These are the only groups added to new vaccine availability group.

The new group would qualify about 350,000 more people for the vaccine. ADPH says they the new eligibility group is not a full expansion into the next phase of the vaccine rollout yet.

ADPH updated its vaccine distribution dashboard Monday.

ADPH reports that 271,925 vaccines were allotted to Alabama and 87,138 doses were administered.

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