The local hotline for eligible people to use to schedule an appointment for the COVID-19 vaccine has been receiving 38,000 calls an hour, a spokeswoman for the North Georgia Health District said.
"The reason people are experiencing delays in getting through is because the volume of calls exceeds the capacity of our system," said Jennifer King.
The health district includes six counties, including Whitfield and Murray, and appointment registration is going through the hotline of (888) 881-1474 after the health district's website crashed. The hotline operates Monday through Friday from 8:15 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
"We are working to increase our staff and our supply of vaccine so that we can expand our efforts and are asking everyone to be patient as it will take time to vaccinate everyone in the expanded group of people who are eligible and want to be vaccinated by public health," King said. "We are asking residents to rest assured that everyone within our health district who wants to be vaccinated through public health and who contacts our hotline to register for that vaccination will receive an appointment at their local health department.
"In the meantime, residents may wish to see if their private physician is a vaccine provider. We would also encourage them to check the newly launched COVID-19 Vaccine Locator on the Georgia Department of Public Health website at https://dph.georgia.gov. This tool allows users to search by county for both private and public health vaccine providers in their community and lists location and contact information for the providers."
The health district is administering the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines at the Whitfield County Health Department and the Moderna vaccine at the Murray County Health Department. Both are a two-dose vaccine. When patients get their first dose, they will be given a card with the date that they should get their second dose. They should call the health department one week before that date to schedule an appointment.
Vaccinations are currently available for the following groups:
• Health care workers and those who work in health care facilities.
• Residents and staff at long-term care facilities who have not yet been vaccinated.
• Adults 65 years and older and their caregivers.
• Law enforcement personnel and fire department workers.
"We don't know yet when our website will be available again for registration but we are working on a resolution," King said.
The website when it is working is nghd.org/pr/34-/1271-covid19-vaccine-appointments.html.