coronavirus vaccine

Health Care Systems Implement New Measures to Manage Vaccination Demand

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As the state works to ramp up vaccinations for those a part of phase 1a and those 75 or older, many patients say they are running into issues when trying to sign up for an appointment.

Robert Schulman told NBC Connecticut he found several issues when trying to sign his father up for an appointment.

"I called the vaccination assistance hotline and waited an hour and 40 minutes and I just hung up," said Schulman. "There was a lot of frustration and anxiety when going through the process."

Initially, Schulman's father had an appointment on February 25 with Hartford HealthCare, but Schulman wanted to see if he could get an earlier date since his dad is considered at-risk.

"On Saturday, I woke up at midnight and tried to get my Dad another appointment but the online system would not work for me," said Schulman. "I tried again on Monday and I was finally able to get an appointment for my dad and he received his shot."

Hartford Health Care said they are experiencing an influx in calls and will be working to help patients schedule an appointment if they have any problems.

"The call lines are causing some frustration and to offset the demand, we've brought in a great amount of staff to help manage people through that who are calling in to schedule appointments," said Dr. James Cardon, the chief clinical integration officer at Hartford HealthCare. "We have opened more slots and they are being subscribed to pretty quickly."

The United Way is helping to schedule appointments via the 1-877-918-2224 number and is urging the public to be patient as they keep up with the calls and demand.

"The volume of people calling us is like nothing we've ever seen before," said Lisa Tepper Bates, president and CEO with United Way of CT. "We really are doing our very best to answer and to help as many people as we can."

UConn Health, which is also offering vaccinations, is expanding its efforts to meet the needs of those who are eligible to receive their shots.

"We did standup voicemail opportunities where we can call folks back," said Dr. Kimberly Metcalf, the primary vaccine coordinator with UConn Health. "We're opening up weekend opportunities and we're going to be opening up more appointment slots in the future.

UConn Health, Community Health Center and Hartford Health Care are all planning to open up additional sites in the future.

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