FAIRMONT — The Marion County Health Department continues to be overwhelmed with phone calls about its supply of the COVID-19 vaccine since the agency began getting shipments a few weeks ago.
Health Department Administrator Lloyd White said the agency is attempting to set up a phone bank that will take calls about the vaccine, but until then, he will not be able to provide consistent updates about the Health Department’s stock because the shipments are up to the state as to when they arrive.
“People want the vaccine — I don’t have answers,” White said. “We’re also working on a phone bank to where we can have recorded messages for people to call to hopefully alleviate some of the call volume here.”
White said the health department has been connected with a state hotline for vaccination inquiries at 1-833-734-0965, which he said will be better for answering residents’ questions about the supply of the doses.
The health department is still performing contact tracing for positive cases to determine where a person who tests positive for COVID-19 may have contracted it. Because of this duty, White said it is imperative the phone lines be available for the department staff to use.
“Our cases are just continuing to explode, our death rates are off the charts,” White said. “We’re seeing an increase in the number of deaths, so we’re still doing case investigation and contact tracing, which means we need to call out. More than likely all our phone lines are full, and I can’t even call out, so it does interfere with our ability to do case investigation and contact tracing.”
Other state organizations are administering vaccines to patients and staff members, including Fairmont State University and the Marion County school system. White said with each of these organizations getting independent deliveries of the vaccine, he hopes the calls to the health department decrease.
White received his second dose for the COVID-19 vaccine, which completes the vaccination process. He said although people throughout Marion County are probably getting vaccinated, he wants everyone to remain patient and continue practicing coronavirus health and safety guidelines to prevent the spread of the disease until more people can be vaccinated.
“It takes we believe seven days to get full immunity,” White said. “As with all vaccines, none of it is 100 percent effective, so I would encourage everyone to continue yes, please, still wear your mask until such time, at the very least, where our cases level off to a respectable level.”