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Some Western Ky. Health Departments Are Swamped With Calls About COVID-19 Vaccine Availability

Marshall County Health Department

Some local health departments are seeing a flood of calls about COVID-19 vaccine availability for doses that may not arrive in the near future. 

The Marshall County Health Department posted on social media earlier this week they did not have the capacity to handle the hundreds of calls asking for a COVID-19 vaccine. 

Marshall County Health Department Public Health Director Billy Pitts wants people to know calling won’t bring more vaccines any faster. According to the social media post, the health department initially received 200 doses of the Moderna vaccine on Dec. 22, which were administered to those in Phase 1A of the state’s vaccine distribution. On Jan.12, the health department received 100 additional Moderna vaccines for a total of 300 doses.  

Pitt said the health department hasn’t received any more doses and isn’t sure when they will, with priority given to frontline workers including teachers in Phase 1. 

“[The state] quit shipping the vaccine out to anybody except for your long-term care facilities, the K-12 school systems, and then the mass vaccination clinics. The problem with that is people are still calling here wanting to get on the list,” Pitt said. 

Pitts said his health department’s waiting list for the COVID-19 vaccine has increased drastically just in the past two weeks, from just a few hundred people to about three thousand. 

“What’s happening is that after two or three weeks, the first people who we were calling are calling us back,” Pitt said.

“We’re getting hundreds and hundreds of phone calls everyday from people who are frustrated. I don’t blame them for being frustrated. I really don’t, because as far as their concern, they’re trying to get the vaccine, they want to get the shot. But they call and put their name on the list and they never hear from us again,” Pitt said.

The Graves County Health Department has experienced a similar amount of calls about the COVID-19 vaccine. Director Noel Coplen said there are around 1,500 people who are on a waiting list. 

“The barrier is not with us, not being able to give it. We just don't have a vaccine to give,” Coplen said.

Coplen said when the health department receives more vaccines, those in the 70-plus age group will likely receive a vaccine first if they are on the list. 

“We’re old school here. We just write their name and phone number down on a legal pad. We can’t tell people when we get vaccines in, which might be in the middle or end of February. We’ll work right down the list and be as fair as possible and do it in order,” Coplen said. 

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