FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 21, 2021
Media Contact: Melissa Morin, Public Information Officer
Phone: (360) 594-2504
E-mail address: WUC_JIC@co.whatcom.wa.us
Flood of Phone Calls Descends on Vaccine Providers - Officials ask Public Not to Call about Vaccines
Bellingham, WA - Healthcare providers in Whatcom County are reporting crashed phone lines after fielding thousands of calls concerning COVID-19 vaccines.
Anyone calling vaccine providers for information about COVID-19 vaccines can expect to wait for several hours, if they’re able to get through to anyone at all. This creates challenges for patients needing primary care, who are unable to connect with their providers while phone systems are clogged.
“More than 42,000 Whatcom County residents became eligible for vaccination on Monday, but in total there are only 1,000 more doses of the vaccine coming to providers this week. There is simply not enough vaccine in our community,” said Erika Lautenbach, Director of the Whatcom County Health Department. “We are asking folks in our community not to call their healthcare providers to ask about vaccinations at this time.”
Instead of calling their provider, people in Phase 1B Tier 1 should wait for their provider to contact them with information about vaccine availability and how to get vaccinated. Many providers are expected to get in touch with eligible patients once they’re able to schedule an appointment. Patients can also keep updated via texts, patient portals and their provider’s website. Vaccine providers and WCHD will provide more information about how to get vaccinated as our community gets more vaccine.
Providers in Whatcom County are still working through both tiers of Phase 1A, even as they are opening up vaccinations to people in Phase 1B Tier 1. Local providers have only received a total of about 9,000 vaccine doses to date, and it could take several weeks for people to be able to be vaccinated.
“We’ve all been really, really patient, for almost a year now.” said Lautenbach. “So patient, it hurts. We’re frustrated, and we know everyone else is frustrated, too. But we have to hang in there, for just a while longer. The end is still in sight.”
This information is also available as a pdf.