Wake County residents ages 65 and older and healthcare workers who are interested in getting the COVID-19 vaccine can join our waiting list, starting Tuesday, Jan. 19. To provide the best possible customer service, Wake County Public Health is using a new system to help match the demand for shots with supply of vaccine.
“We don’t want our seniors standing out in the cold, waiting for hours to get vaccinated against this dangerous virus,” said Wake County Board of Commissioners Chairman Matt Calabria. “This new system will enable them to schedule an appointment when it’s their turn, so they’ll know exactly when and where to get their shot.”
How the Process Works
On Jan. 19, residents in Groups 1 and 2 will have two ways to tell Wake County Public Health that they’re interested in getting vaccinated – a special phone line and an online tool.
“We know that not everyone has access to a computer, especially right now,” said Wake County Pharmacy Director Dr. Jason Wittes. “That’s why we’re providing multiple ways for residents to connect with us and get in line for the vaccine.”
How the Process Works: Phone Line
Wake County Public Health is working with a company that will answer calls to our new vaccination phone line 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The phone number – which will not go live until Jan. 19 at 8:30 a.m. – is 919-250-1515.
When people call the line, a customer service representative will ask them a series of questions, including:
- Are you 65 years old or older?
- Are you a healthcare worker?
- Do you have an established primary care provider?
- What is your name, email address and phone number?
Once the representative enters their responses into our system, the callers will be placed on the waiting list for the vaccine, based on their eligibility. As soon as Wake County Public Health receives enough doses, these people will receive a notification via phone, email or text. The message will ask them to schedule a vaccination appointment.
How the Process Works: Online Tool
Wake County Public Health also took the initiative to build its own online tool to help people join the waiting list for the vaccine. Starting Jan. 19 at 8:30 a.m., they can visit wakegov.com/vaccine.
Once on the site, visitors will answer the same questions as noted above. When they click “submit,” they will automatically be placed on the waiting list for the vaccine. When supply allows, they will be notified via email, phone or text that it’s their turn to receive the vaccine. They will then make an appointment online or over the phone to get the shot at a convenient date and time.
“This is not a first-come, first-served process,” said Dr. Wittes. “We determine the order of appointments based on risk and need, so people don’t have to worry about being the first person to call our phone line or visit our online tool at precisely 8:30 a.m. Tuesday.”
How the Process Works: After the Shot
After coming to their appointment and getting vaccinated, Wake County Public Health will ask them to remain on site for 20–30 minutes to watch for any serious reactions. This is a normal safety precaution for other vaccinations.
Those who receive a shot will also get a vaccination card to show they got the first dose and make an appointment for their second dose – 21 days later for Pfizer and 28 days later for Moderna. Wake County Public Health will then send a notification 19 days after the first dose as a reminder of their second dose appointment.
Realistic Expectations: Three Key Points to Know
- It’s critical that the community understand the demand for the vaccine will far outpace the supply – at least for the foreseeable future. Wake County Public Health only finds out a few days in advance of a shipment how many doses – if any – it will receive each week, which makes planning challenging.
“We understand and appreciate the public’s desire to get vaccinated right away, but we can only move as fast as our supply allows,” said Dr. Wittes. “The more doses we get from the state, the more shots we can get into the arms of our 50,000 healthcare workers and 133,000 seniors ages 65 and older.”
To date, Dr. Wittes and his team have received 5,850 first doses of the vaccine and have invited more than 9,000 Group 1 individuals to sign up to get vaccinated. The county anticipates on-hand first doses to be used or committed by the time next week’s shipment arrives.
- Wake County Public Health also wants to emphasize that seniors 65 and older don’t need to rush to be first to call our reservation line or visit our online tool on Tuesday morning. Priority for vaccine appointments will be determined by factors such as age and vulnerability to the virus – not the order in which they join the waiting list.
- Wake County Public Health has worked diligently to make the vaccination process as easy and efficient as possible. But, when launching anything new, minor improvements may be needed after going live, and the county will make adjustments, based on feedback, to improve the customer experience.
Wake County Public Health is one of five healthcare providers in the county receiving shipments of the vaccine. The others include Duke Raleigh, UNC Health, UNC Wakebrook, and WakeMed Health and Hospitals. These providers are working closely together to vaccinate the public against COVID-19 and help keep our community healthy and safe.
Wake County Public Health will continue answering questions from the community about the vaccine through its COVID-19 hotline – 919-250-1500 – and its email address – [email protected].