BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - The early days of coronavirus vaccine distribution have been filled with missteps and challenges. Clogged phone lines and overwhelmed web sites have been the norm so far. Add to that the confusion from different distribution systems being used.
“What we’re dealing with is this is unknown territory for everyone,” said Emily Burke, communications director for Coastal Family Health Center on Wednesday. “It’s trial and error, so we’re all just kind of working through it, and I would have to say the state’s doing the same thing, just trying to work through it.”
But despite the problems, there will eventually be enough vaccines for everyone. Long before the first COVID-19 vaccine was made available to the public, health officials knew that it would take months to get everybody vaccinated.
Even with efforts to limit the number of people eligible in a certain time frame, systems have become overwhelmed and shortages are being seen.
“The thing you have to remember is you’re going to get vaccinated,” said Burke. “If you want to get vaccinated, we’re going to get you vaccinated. It’s just going to take a little bit of time. So patience and flexibility is pretty much the name of the game for the next six months.”
Part of the problem residents are experiencing is the different systems being used to distribute the vaccine. Some are doing first-come-first-served, others are using an appointment system, and those systems are being overwhelmed. Coastal Family Health Care is administering shots at five locations, including at the Kroc Center in Biloxi, but they are not at every location every day and they require an appointment.
“There has been a little bit of miscommunication,” said Burke. “People think they can just drive up and get one and unfortunately, that’s not the case, you have to have an appointment. And with that comes a call canter that has volumes that have quadrupled and so it’s very hard to get through so I just suggest that you keep trying.”
Burke also added “I’ve heard that the Kroc Center has had about 120 phone calls and our call center and all our clinics have been bombarded with the thought that they can drive up and that we are taking 65 and over and that’s just not the case right now. We are taking 75 and over, and you have to have an appointment.
It appears that all vaccines distributed to the Coast have been spoken for, but information about availability has been changing daily.
As of yesterday, the most recent numbers available show just 25 percent of the COVID-19 vaccine doses in the state have been administered. Appointments have been made, it appears, for the rest.
The availability of vaccines is changing daily, so check with the state health department of your local health care provider before going to get a vaccine.