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State COVID vaccination line overwhelmed with calls

January 9, 2021 GMT

A state hotline for COVID-19 vaccination appointments has been overwhelmed with calls after Alabama announced that the state will begin giving the shots to people 75 years old or older, as well as first responders, later this month.

The Alabama Department of Public Health said Saturday that the telephone number received 1.1 million calls in the first day of being open to the public. The Health Department pleaded with people not to call the number unless they are the groups that are eligible for the shot.

“Due to the overwhelming amount of calls, our target population ca not get through to schedule their appointments,” the health department wrote in a social media

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The governor’s office announced Friday that the state was opening up the COVID-19 vaccinations for people 75 years or older and first-responders — including law enforcement and firefighters.

The state Health Department said free COVID-19 vaccinations for people 75 years or older and first-responders — including law enforcement and firefighters — can be made by appointment only. Eligible people can call the ADPH toll-free phone number at 1-855-566-5333, which is answered from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. seven days a week. Appointments will be made on a first-come, first-serve basis, beginning January 18 at locations throughout the state. Health officials urged people to try again later if they get a busy signal because of the massive influx of calls.

Gov. Kay Ivey on Friday urged people to remain patient because initial vaccine supplies remain limited.

“It is critical for everyone to remain patient; demand is high, and supply is low. ADPH and their partners are working around-the-clock to assist as many people as they can,” Ivey said.

The state has so far been in the first phase of its vaccination plan, which prioritizes health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities, about 377,000 all together.