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Phone trouble plagues vaccination plans

ELKINS — Officials were working Tuesday to resolve issues with the phone lines being used to make appointments for Thursday’s mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Phil Gainer Community Center.

All of the phone lines at Davis Medical Center, which is scheduling the vaccination appointments for Thursday’s clinics went down early Tuesday morning and were still out of service late in the afternoon.

DMC released the following statement at approximately 2 p.m. on Tuesday: “At this time we are experiencing technical difficulties with our phone lines. Once our phone line is fixed by Frontier we will begin accepting calls to book appointments. Please, do not call the hotline number until we have resolved the issue. Thank you and we apologize for any inconvenience. We will make an announcement shortly once the lines are fixed.”

Davis Medical Center also announced that if anyone is having a medical emergency to call 911 or go to the nearest emergency department.

“They are trying to move some things and make it so we have 10 phone lines,” Bonnie Woodrum, the Randolph-Elkins Health Department’s infectious disease specialist, told The Inter-Mountain Tuesday. “Frontier has been working on it and we thought it was ready to go Tuesday morning. But then we had some reports that there were some issues.

“People just need to be patient with us. We will make the appointments for the amount of vaccines we have and we will keep the lines open, once we get them to work, until the appointments are filled,” she said.

The amount of phone lines were increased so that residents could get through the system in a more timely manner. Once all the issues are resolved, making an appointment should run much smoother.

“We will keep giving these vaccines until they are all given,” said Woodrum. “When the phone lines are fixed we will continue to take appointments until they are all filled. People shouldn’t panic with the phone lines being down, we will work at it until all the appointments are filled and all the doses are given. So people shouldn’t be upset with us, we’re doing the best we can. It’s a technological problem and not a health department or hospital problem.”

There are 500 vaccinations available for Thursday’s clinic, which is by appointment only and for residents 65 and older. The session is focusing on Randolph, Tucker, Barbour, Upshur, Pendleton and Webster counties but is open to all West Virginians on a first call, first appointment basis.

“We will keep going until we get those 500 doses distributed one way or another,” said Woodrum. “If we have to stay an extra day we will.”

Woodrum said there was a mixup this week regarding the second shot needed for the 80 years and older residents who received their first shot.

“The over 80 vaccines that were due to be their second shot this week did not come,” she explained. “Those are being rescheduled and it’s alright because it’s a booster dose. Nobody should panic and they will be contacted about the next appointment, which will be next week.”

Woodrum did say, however, that Randolph County’s first responders who received their first vaccination shot were recently given their second dose. She said others are on a list waiting to get their first shot after missing the first round of vaccinations.

“There are some of them (first responders) that didn’t bother to sign up the first time around,” Woodrum said. “We have to wait until we get that vaccine. We have not gotten that vaccine for the waiting list for the first responders and their first shot.”

Coronavirus cases in Randolph County dropped at the start of the week as health officials reported here were 207 active cases in the county, down from last Monday’s total of 245 active cases.

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