State Vaccine Hotline Up and Running
Call center helps people schedule COVID-19 vaccinations, answers questions about the vaccine.
Getting eligible COVID-19 vaccine candidates registered and scheduled for vaccination has been a challenge to the vaccine rollout from the beginning.
Until recently, the access points for vaccination were largely decentralized. Eligible vaccine candidates were told to speak with their local healthcare provider, pharmacy or health department about making an appointment for vaccination.
“Being able to talk directly to someone who can answer your questions regarding the COVID-19 vaccine will go a long way to easing these concerns,” said Governor Tony Evers in a statement announcing the new phone service.
The phone line is for anyone that has questions about the vaccine, needs help finding a vaccinator, getting registered or making an appointment.
The state recently began the next phase of vaccinations, which made approximately 1.6 million people newly eligible for the vaccine. While the shortage of doses relative to the number of eligible candidates remains the state’s biggest challenge, another challenge is getting people registered and appointments scheduled. “Learning about the vaccine, trying to find a location, and registering for a COVID-19 vaccine appointment can be stressful,” Evers said.
Along with the phone service, the state developed an interactive map they are updating once every two weeks with vaccine providers that have doses to administer.
Milwaukee County has been reaching out to its eligible employees and residents that use county services to help them get registered and scheduled for vaccination, as well as vaccinating them at a county-run site at Kosciuszko Community Center. The county also started vaccinating eligible residents from two zip-codes whose residents are more likely to face barriers to vaccination.
The City of Milwaukee has been working to set up mobile vaccination sites within communities to increase accessibility and also to target specific populations. It’s currently operating four community vaccination sites specifically for educators and childcare workers, as well as vaccinating seven days a week at the Wisconsin Center.
Online scheduling has been the most common way to access the vaccine so far. “Access to the internet should not be a barrier to getting the vaccine,” said Karen Timberlake, DHS interim secretary. The state phone line is intended to bridge that gap for those lacking internet access or that have trouble using the internet.
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