Rollout of COVID-19 vaccine in Licking County hits snag with overloaded hotline

Local News

LICKING COUNTY, Ohio (WCMH) – More and more of Ohio’s most vulnerable are getting the COVID-19 vaccine by the day, but the rollout for those 80 and older isn’t coming without challenges with supply of the vaccine continuing to be one of the issues.

In addition, some local health departments are being flooded with calls from people trying to register to get the vaccine.

In some cases, people have not been able to get through to talk to someone.

Aside from a little help each day, 90-year-old Nancy Dawley still lives on her own in Newark, even as she deals with multiple myeloma, a type of blood cancer.

“So, her immune system is very week and it’s just been very nerve wracking this whole entire pandemic to worry about anyone that comes in contact with her,” said Debora Haidar, Dawley’s daughter.

Haidar wanted to get her mother registered for the COVID-19 vaccine, so she called the Licking County Health Department.

“I started calling on Friday and I just got busy signals,” Haidar said.

She called again Tuesday, about once an hour. Each time, all she heard was a busy signal on the other end, never being able to get through.

“I figured it’s new, they’re just trying to get up and running,” Haidar said.

Late Tuesday morning, the health department posted a reminder on Facebook saying the vaccine hotline is very busy and don’t call if your age group is not eligible to receive the vaccine. People calling when they are not eligible bogs down phone lines and makes it more difficult for people who are currently eligible to get an appointment, like Nancy Dawley.

A similar situation occurred at Columbus Public Health Monday. As of Tuesday, CPH said their phone hotline was back in operation.

As for Haidar, she ended up getting her mother a spot at Kroger. She’ll be getting her first shot on Thursday.

“It will be the biggest relief ever,” Haidar said.

A spokesperson for the Licking County Health Department said more information should become available Wednesday.

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