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Vaccine call center opens

The cities of Suffolk and Franklin and the counties of Isle of Wight County and Southampton opened a call center Feb. 8 to provide information about COVID-19-related vaccination issues in the Western Tidewater Health District.

The public may reach the call center at 757-514-4570. It’s based in Suffolk’s Emergency Operations Center at 300 Kings Fork Road. The vaccination information line’s hours of operation are 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday until further notice.

In a Feb. 8 news release, officials said the new information line is intended “to provide much needed assistance in response to understandably overwhelming citizen inquiries to the WTHD from those

seeking information regarding the scheduling and availability of COVID-19 vaccinations.”

The call center staff cannot schedule vaccinations, confirm appointments or give medical advice. Instead, officials said, its purpose is to provide a resource for older adults or anyone who is not using or cannot access the internet or social media to get information or receive announcements from local public health authorities. The call center can also provide individual assistance to complete the health district’s vaccine inquiry form.

The form provides citizens the opportunity to begin the COVID- 19 vaccination pre-registration process by completing the survey at https://redcap.vdh.virginia.gov/redcap/surveys/?s=WW97HTFCE9.

The inquiry form is not an actual registration to receive the vaccine. It’s meant only to provide the health district with important pre-screening information so that the staff can then later reach out to individuals that want to receive the COVID-19 vaccine to schedule an appointment.

Due to the high volume of requests and the limited number of doses that have been made available from the state, it could then take several weeks for them to reach out to schedule vaccinations. Health officials are asking for the public’s patience and understanding as the process continues.

Links to the vaccine inquiry form are also available on the health district’s website and Suffolk’s COVID-19 webpage. The WTHD entered phase 1B of its COVID-19 vaccination campaign on Jan. 25. However, all vaccination appointments in the health district are currently full, officials said on the WTHD website. And recently scheduled first dose appointments at the Smithfield Center and the Workforce Development Center in Franklin were canceled last week because the health district’s vaccine allocation was significantly decreased, officials said. As the district receives more vaccine doses, the plan is to reschedule those appointments.

Surry County is part of the Crater Health District. That health district’s jurisdictions also include Sussex, Prince Georgea, Dinwiddie and Greensville counties and the cities of Petersburg, Hopewell and Emporia.

More COVID-related information about the Crater Health district is online at vdh.virginia.gov/crater. Residents may also call 804-862-8989 for the health district’s general information number or 804-863-1652 option 1 for the district’s pre-screening line.

Previously published phone numbers for the four health departments that comprise the WTHD are also available for health department business. Here is the contact information for health department offices within the district:

 

Suffolk: (757) 514-4700

Isle of Wight: (757) 357-4177

Southampton: (757) 653-3040

Franklin: (757) 562-6109