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Polk County vaccine hotline gets 100 calls per second, many seniors unable to get through

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Posted at 7:54 PM, Jan 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-08 19:54:32-05

POLK COUNTY, Fla. — Many seniors in Polk County met with frustration on Friday while trying to schedule an appointment for the COVID-19 vaccination.

Polk County opened their vaccination hotline, but many seniors say they couldn’t get through, some calling hundreds of times with no luck.

"I called probably 100 times on my cell phone," said Jennie Shaw, a senior who could not get through while calling the hotline.

Kate Dumity was able to get through right at 8 a.m. when the hotline opened, but she was put directly on hold where she waited for 5.5 hours before deciding to hang up.

"I don’t understand how they’re picking up the calls," said Dumity.

The Polk County Health Department says they were receiving 100 calls per second and the 20 employees working the call center couldn’t keep up.

Keary Sullivan couldn't get through but says he understands.

"I’m not frustrated. I understand that it's a big undertaking and that it's the first day," said Sullivan.

Dumity says called back several times and was eventually able to get through and was put on a waiting list for the vaccine.

The Polk County DOH says all reservations for next week’s vaccine event were filled by 1 p.m.

The county says employees staffing the hotline will continue to register residents 65 and older for a future vaccine appointment, as additional vaccine becomes available.

The phone line, (863) 298-7500, will be open on Saturday from 8am-2pm and 8am-5pm Monday through Friday.