A Virginia community set up a call center to help residents, especially senior citizens, navigate the sometimes tricky COVID-19 vaccination signup system.
Local leaders heard the complaints about people unable to register online, so just over a week ago they opened the call center and have already fielded 1,400 calls — sometimes helping seniors register online, other times confirming they are already in the queue.
“So just having a caller being able to reach out and say, ‘We have your info, we want to confirm this and we’re working on getting you local access,’ has alleviated a lot of their concerns and fears,” Fauquier County Department of Fire Rescue and Emergency Management Chief Darren Stevens said.
Mary Judkins, 79, is internet savvy and completely comfortable preregistering for her vaccine.
“There was no feedback; nobody would tell you, ‘Well, we got it,’” she said.
Then she watched with a bit of dismay as some determined friends figured out they could jump the line by signing up for their shot in another community.
The vaccinated population in D.C. may be overestimated in this map because some non-residents who work in D.C. are included in the totals.
“I felt like this was so unfair,” she said. “I mean, I’m fine, I’m healthy but I think about older people who don’t have computers or don’t know how to use them or they don’t have local family nearby to help them.”
Judkins got confirmation of her registration and sees the new call center as a another sign things are improving.
Call taker Stephen Clough said he’s getting plenty of positive feedback from the folks he’s helped so far, especially those getting a date for their vaccine appointment.
“They’re so grateful and so thankful. ‘Can I give you a hug?’” he said.
To reach the center, call 540-422-0111 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.