DECATUR — Demand for the COVID-19 vaccine is so high in Macon County that the phone system was overwhelmed and all available appointments were filled within 24 hours of the health department announcing its move to the next phase of the vaccinations, officials said Thursday.
“The phone system was basically locked up due to the extremely high number of calls,” health department Administrator Brandi Binkley said, responding to complaints circulating that people were having a difficult time getting through.
Binkley said her staff will return calls as soon as possible to those who were able to leave a message. Those who left a message are asked not to call again.
“We ask the public to be patient and remind them this will not be the only opportunity to be vaccinated,” Binkley said. “More clinics will be held on an ongoing basis as we receive vaccine.”
On Wednesday, the health department announced it was scheduling Phase 1b COVID-19 vaccine appointments. This phase covers, among others, education workers, food and agriculture, manufacturing, corrections, public transit, shelters, postal services, grocery stores and anyone 65 and older.
Phase 1a of the vaccine distribution was earmarked for health care workers and the residents and staff of long-term care facilities.
In the news release issued Thursday, officials said they would notify the public via media outlets and its Facebook page when more appointments are available.
"We want to be very clear that vaccine administration will be taking place over the course of several months as we work incredibly hard to vaccinate every eligible person who wishes to receive it,” officials stated. “We will hold clinics on a regular basis and our community partners will also be announcing clinics as they plan them. We will continue to work with community partners to hold clinics and vaccinate eligible individuals as quickly as we can."
More information on the state vaccination plan can be found at dph.illinois.gov/covid19/vaccine.