KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – The Knox County Health Department said they received tens of thousands of phone calls on Friday as they scheduled 1,000 first-dose vaccination appointments.
The health department said they received about 72,000 in-bound phone calls on Friday, the majority of which came 30 minutes before and after they opened their vaccine appointment portal to schedule 1,000 first-dose vaccinations at 11 a.m. The 1,000 appointments were filled in a matter of minutes.
“We received nearly 50,000 in one hour and are simply not equipped or staffed to handle that volume of calls,” Knox County Chief Technology Officer Zack Webb said.
The Knoxville Chamber reached out to two of the county’s largest call centers, which reported receiving an average of 12,000 and 25,000 calls a day, respectively.
“We are pleased that people in the community are so eager to get the vaccine,” said Senior Director and Public Health Officer Dr. Martha Buchanan. “But we continue to ask for patience as we work through the best way to notify people of available vaccines. Our employees are doing valuable work answering constituent calls and providing important information regarding COVID-19. We want you to call them, but we also ask you to remember how many of them there are answering those calls.”
Knox County officials said in a release they continue to look at ways to provide online registration for vaccine notification and expand phone access but stress they can only schedule vaccinations based on the supply they receive from state and federal suppliers.
“Even if we did have enough staff to answer this volume of calls, we can’t make appointments to administer vaccines we don’t have,” said Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs. “The fact remains, there were only 1,000 appointments to be given. We will get more vaccine, but we are at the mercy of delivery from the State who is at the mercy of delivery from the federal government.”