Guilford County fills 5,000 COVID vaccine appointment slots in first 36 hours

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GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. — Guilford County health officials filled 5,000 COVID vaccine appointments in the first 36 hours of availability, according to statement from the county.

The full statement is provided below:

“After some initial technical hiccups on the launch of the County’s first phase of general public COVID-19 vaccinations efforts, Friday morning, county staff were able to fill nearly 5,000 appointment slots and registrations in 48 hours. Vaccines will be provided Monday January 11 through January 21 and will include ongoing vaccinations for group 1a workers (healthcare providers and first responders) and the newly added Phase 1b – Group 1 (individuals 75 years of age and older).

After receiving notification over the Christmas Holiday that the State modified its distribution schedule to include all residents over the age of 75, county staff began to make immediate changes to their preparations. Initial planning information provided by the state indicated that large public group population vaccinations would not occur until midFebruary and early March. The last-minute changes required county staff to quickly move up their planning efforts and seek out additional clinic sites to accommodate the large group populations several weeks ahead of schedule.

Heavy community demand and support for vaccinations quickly overwhelmed the County’s phoneline infrastructures early Friday morning, combined with the county’s phone carrier technical issues, causing excessive wait times and frustration for those residents making appointments. By noon on Friday the county had received 11,250 calls to the appointment line. The county took immediate action to expand its scheduling capacities both by adding additional staffing, extending phone coverage through the weekend, and launching its online appointment scheduling tool by late Friday afternoon.

Chairman of the Board, Melvin “Skip” Alston stated, “We have always anticipated that the demand for the vaccine would out pace the dosages we have at any given time, but I am extremely proud of the way the County teams pulled together to meet the community demands given the schedule changes. Nearly 100 team members worked Saturday to help clear the backlog of appointment requests. We know that as we move into the mass vaccination of the public, each additional group added will bring its own logistical challenges, but I am confident our Guilford County teams are ready to face those challenges head on to ensure our community’s needs are met.”

As of Saturday, at 4:00 p.m., the County had scheduled appointments for all of its onsite dosage allocations; a total of 4,948 appointments in only 36 hours.

County staff report that the website also received 11,694 hits since its launch Friday afternoon and over 12,800 calls were placed to the call center Friday alone. No data was available at the time of the release for Saturday’s call line numbers.

Guilford County will continue to receive weekly allotments from NCDHHS; however, the exact number of dosages is unknown until NCDHHS releases the information. The County plans to announce new appointment availabilities as soon as the numbers are provided and urge residents to continue to monitor the County’s website at www.healthyguilford.com and county social media platforms for additional time slots as they come in. 

Guilford County is committed to slowing the spread of COVID-19 in Guilford County. And urges its residents to continue to be patient as we work through the challenges the pandemic has created. County officials as that everyone continue to practice the 3 W’s: wear a mask, wash your hands, and watch your distance ask we work together to keep Guilford County a safe and healthy place to live.”

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