CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources will now take the weight off of local health departments when it comes to COVID-19 vaccine appointment scheduling.
Starting Monday, January 25, the WV DHHR will open an online portal where West Virginians can signup to receive the vaccine.
This comes on the heels of issues local health departments are experiencing from high call volumes. The Kanawha-Charleston Health Department’s call center overloaded on Wednesday.
WV DHHR Secretary Bill Crouch said, “we heard local health department first say they’re getting overwhelmed with calls. People are constantly tying up the phone lines. They don’t have enough people to man the phones to try to get people registered for the vaccine…”
Kanawha County seniors 65 and older were on hold for hours, disconnected or never got through to make an appointment.
KCHD Executive Director, Dr. Sherri Young said, “we’ve seen that the phone system would easily get overloaded in counties like Kanawha. We’ve got to think about other 54 counties that may not have the resources or the phone systems that even we do at the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department…”
The WV DHHR will now handle appointment scheduling, relieving additional pressure on local health departments.
“Give the health departments a little breathing room, so they can do what they do best, which is the health care and vaccinations themselves, etcetera,” said Crouch.
“There may be some bumps in the road as anything that rolls out we’re learning to use, but we’ll work through those and I think the state will work with us really closely to help make sure that that goes a smoothly as it can,” said Young.
KCHD will now be able to relocate call center staff back into the vaccination process so they can focus on vaccination more people.
Starting Monday at 8 a.m., West Virginians will be able to go onto the WV DHHR website to signup for a vaccination appointment, no matter which county you live in.