County evaluating vaccination procedure after phone lines overwhelmed

By Adam Strunk
Following a day where phone lines were overwhelmed with people trying to set up a vaccination appointment, Harvey County is working to improve the process.

Thursday, when the county hotline went online for residents to schedule an appointment for the upcoming Feb. 4 clinic, callers reported difficulties getting through on the number. Some said that they spent six-plus hours before they got through to make a vaccination appointment.

“Sincerely, we’re all extremely proud to see how many people want to receive a COVID-19 vaccination,” Public Information Officer Kyle McCaskey said. “We’re also frustrated with how our first day went. We have 10 phone lines available, but when we have more than 1,000 calls coming in per hour, that doesn’t get us too far.”

McCaskey said that it takes several minutes to complete an appointment schedule, and several questions have to be answered.

“We’re definitely interested in online enrollment in some form in the future,” he said.

He noted that, with the elderly demographic who were eligible for the vaccine, the county wanted to make sure all had access to sign up. That made the phone, instead of a computer, a more accessible option.

“We’re striving for an avenue that provides the most equitable opportunity possible for anyone 65 and older that wants to be vaccinated,” he said.

Other locations across the state and country have also had difficulties with the first few days of the sign off process.

The Shawnee Mission Post published pictures Tuesday of the elderly waiting in long lines in the ice and snow in Johnson County awaiting vaccination.

“Whether it’s by appointment or waiting in line, enrollment online or by phone, this is an extremely demanding process,” McCaskey said.

He added that, ideally, the county would have 35,000 doses of vaccine and open up vaccination points across Harvey County. Unfortunately, due to demand far outpacing supply, that’s not the case.

“The demand is far, far greater than the supply available right now, unfortunately,” he said.

For those wanting to still get on the waiting list for the vaccine, the number to call is 316-836-4990. The county is providing 300 vaccines at a clinic on Feb. 4. Those who don’t make the cut off will be placed on the waiting list for a future clinic.

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