The Alabama Department of Public Health opened its phone lines to start taking appointments for those 75 years old and up for the COVID-19 vaccine. The health department saw more than 300,000 calls in the first few hours.
Dr. Karen Landers said the health department is asking for patience tonight, as they start scheduling those appointments that will begin on Jan. 18.
"I would recommend right now that if persons can't get through right now, that they wait awhile, try to call back, and if you're not able to get through, then wait a couple of days and call back," she said.
Landers said she's aware the phone lines were ringing off the hook on Friday.
Many people who called get a busy signal from the department of public health, and Landers said just because you might soon be eligible, doesn't mean you'll get an appointment.
"We're looking at a supply and demand issue here, so be aware we certainly do not have enough vaccine to vaccinate almost 700,000 people," she said.
The decision for a soft transition into the next phase of vaccination comes as many health care workers across the state have received a vaccination, and some already getting their second dose.
"We felt like by looking at where we were in terms of vaccinating our health care workers and also where we are in terms of doing what we can to keep people out of the hospital, that this was an important move toward our broad-based vaccine strategy, which again is limited based upon the supply of the vaccine that we have," Landers said.
She said vaccine appointments have to be scheduled accordingly to make sure vaccines don't go bad before they're used.
"Once you puncture a vial, that vial is only good for a certain amount of time, and so when we are making appointments and when we are doing our vaccination, we have to appoint in block of people so that we will assure the utilization of each dose of vaccine," she said.
The phone line is open 7 days a week from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. It is 1-855-566-5333.