‘Exercise patience’: Expect delays when scheduling vaccination

Published 10:40 pm Monday, January 11, 2021

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As of 9 a.m. on January 8, more than 6.6 million people in the United States had received their first doses of either the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines. That is about the number of people living in the cities in Los Angeles and Chicago combined.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the 75 to 85 percent of the population needs to be vaccinated in order to bring the pandemic under control.

Lines are jammed by those seeking appointments for the vaccines and Gov. Kay Ivey has urged Alabamians to remain patient in the rush to get their COVID-19 vaccinations. However, “switchboards” continue to light up as people rush to make appointments for the vaccine. The demand is great but the supply is low.

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On Monday, a spokesperson at the Pike County Health Department said, “at this time” appointments were still being made for the COVID-19 vaccinations. But, for how long, she didn’t know. The number to call for appointments for the vaccine is 566-2860, then dial “O” for the operator.

The Alabama hot line to call to make appointments is 1-855-566-5333.

But, expect to exercise patience, said Jimmy Phillips of Troy.

For Phillips, the third day was the charm.

“On Friday, I tried several times to call the Alabama Hotline at 1-855-566-5333 to register for the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine but it was always busy,” Phillips said. “On Saturday, I tried several times, busy. On Sunday, I called again, eight times. On the eighth time, it rang.”

With the ringing, Phillips was hoping to hear a human voice, but he was put on “Hold.”

“I put the phone on speaker and put the receiver down,” Phillips said. “Every few minutes, a voice would remind me that I was ‘on hold.’”

About 40 minutes later, Phillips was connected to a human voice.

“Once connected, it only took about five minutes to get an appointment for the COVID-19 vaccine for me and for my wife,” he said. “I was asked several questions, including my name, address, age, date of birth, health status, race and email address. The woman asking the questions was very thorough. After every question, she repeated my answers to make sure she had them right.”

And, in just those five minutes, Phillips was scheduled for appointments for him and his wife to receive the vaccines “Tuesday of the next week at 9:30 a.m. at the Pike County Health Department.”

“I don’t know exactly how the vaccination process will work,” Phillips said. “But, a friend who lives in North Carolina, has had the vaccination. He said he never got out of the car and had no side effects.”

Phillips said the long wait for the appointment for the COVID-19 vaccination was worth it.”

“COVID-19 is very serious and can be deadly,” Phillips said. “Alice and I have been very cautious in trying not to get the virus. We wear our masks and keep social distance when we have to go out anywhere. We don’t go around many people. We do everything we can to keep from getting the virus. We’re at that age where it could be especially dangerous. The vaccine is the best protection we can get from COVID-19. So, what was a little wait time?”