Callers swamp COVID vaccine appointment hotlines around Charlotte. Here’s what to know

Technology issues have slowed the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out for many people age 75 and older trying to sign up for appointments in Mecklenburg and surrounding counties.

This week, many N.C. counties will host their first public coronavirus vaccination clinics, offering shots to anyone 75 or older. But some sign-ups have been delayed by the large number of people trying to call the hotline, according to Mecklenburg and Gaston counties.

On Monday, Mecklenburg County announced that appointments for shots at the Bojangles Coliseum clinic could be made by calling 980-314-9400 and selecting Option 3, or online at mecknc.gov/COVID-19 or https://booknow.appointment-plus.com/83g1hcpv/.

But in an email to county commissioners Tuesday, County Manager Dena Diorio said some people haven’t been able to use the hotline due to the “extremely high call volume.

“The phone line is not completely down but there are intermittent problems,” she stated. “IT is working on it. While I know it may be hard for some, people can book appointment online.”

Employees at Mecklenburg County Public Health with doses of the Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. Many people are having trouble getting an appointment for a coronavirus vaccine due to high call volume on the county’s appointment hotline.
Employees at Mecklenburg County Public Health with doses of the Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. Many people are having trouble getting an appointment for a coronavirus vaccine due to high call volume on the county’s appointment hotline.

One Charlotte resident, 75-year-old John Gresham, told the Observer he called the hotline at least 30 times Tuesday morning and never got through.

Later Tuesday, he got a notice from Atrium Health that he could get vaccinated through the hospital system. So he’s doing that instead.

Now, he’s got an appointment to get his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine January 14 — his 76th birthday. “Maybe I wasn’t meant to go to Bojangles Coliseum,” he said.

Problems in Gaston

Neighboring Gaston County is also experiencing phone issues for its COVID-19 vaccine registration hotline, the county said in an email. The hotline number is 704-866-3170.

The Gaston County IT department is working with the phone provider to fix the problem, county spokesman Adam Gaub said in an email.

Gaston will hold its first COVID-19 vaccination clinic for residents 75 years or older on Friday at the Gastonia Farmer’s Market.

“We are in receipt of many voicemails to the vaccine line,” the county stated on its website. “If you have already left a voicemail, do not keep trying to call back — you will be contacted by one of our operators.”

Problems with vaccine hotlines also are being reported elsewhere around the country, including in Florida, where one woman tweeted that she had unsuccessfully called the local hotline over 180 times.

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