Alabama hospitals ‘overwhelmed’ with calls for COVID vaccine

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The Alabama Department of Public Health says public hospitals are “inundated” with calls from people asking to receive the COVID-19 vaccine and asking the public not to call hospitals directly to make an appointment.

Hours after announcing that the state planned to begin vaccinating anyone over 75 and over essential workers on Jan. 18, ADPH says hospitals in Alabama were inundated with calls from people seeking to fix appointments, and that the number of calls creates problems for these hospitals.

“Please do not call your local hospital directly to schedule appointments to schedule to receive your COVID-19 vaccine,” the department said in a press release Friday.

“We have learned that hospital switchboards are inundated with phone calls, which creates a barrier to patient care,” the statement said. “Hospitals in Alabama are overwhelmed to provide care for patients with COVID-19 and to meet all other medical needs of our citizens.”

Alabama currently only vaccinates people in Phase 1a of its plan, frontline healthcare workers and certain emergency responders, as well as people who have extensive contact with COVID patients in the course of their work. , including laboratory and mortuary workers. Some areas have started offering vaccines to other groups, if they have enough, but these are largely found in county health departments.

“While hospitals in a few areas of the state have started vaccinating those 75 and over, most are still working to make sure their frontline workers are vaccinated,” ADHD said. “Additional information will be provided when hospitals and sites other than county health departments have the vaccine available for additional groups.”

The ADPH also launched a statewide vaccine planning hotline on Friday for people to call 1-855-566-5333. Calls are answered 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week, but ADPH says the line received more than 1.1 million calls on the first day of operation.

As a result, ADHD asks people to call the hotline only if they are eligible to receive the vaccine by January 18, i.e. people over 75, or who work in jobs listed in phase 1a or 1b of the state vaccine award. plan.

“Please do not call the appointment line if you are not qualified to schedule a vaccine at this time,” ADPH said on Saturday. “Due to the overwhelming number of calls, our target population cannot come by to schedule their appointments.

“COVID-19 vaccination appointments are currently only available to healthcare workers, people 75 years of age and older, and first responders (including law enforcement and firefighters). Demand for vaccines continues to exceed supply in Alabama, with more than 300,000 healthcare workers and nearly 350,000 people qualifying for a vaccine at age 75 and older. “

ADPH said people with general questions about the vaccine who do not wish to make an appointment to receive it can call 1-800-270-7268.

ADPH also provided a list of hospitals and medical facilities that received the vaccine as of January 6, although more locations will be added as the state receives more vaccine shipments.

In Birmingham, the Jefferson County Department of Health also has a direct line for vaccine information at 205-858-2221. Residents of Jefferson County can also text 888777 with the message INFOJEFFCO to sign up for SMS updates of the COVID-19 vaccine.

* Updated at 10:15 am with additional information from ADPH.

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