Busy Signals Dominate as Polk Vaccine Hotline Receives 100+ Calls per Second

When the Polk County COVID-19 vaccine hotline launched at 8 a.m. today, it was receiving more than 100 calls per second, county officials say. The result: Many thousands of callers got repeated busy signals, recorded “temporarily out of service” announcements or call-failed messages.

By 11 a.m., all vaccine appointments next week for residents age 65 and older had been filled.

“We ask for your patience and understanding as we continue to iron out the wrinkles,” said Dr. Joy Jackson, director of the Florida Department of Health in Polk County.

The hotline — (863) 298-7500 — will remain open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. “for the foreseeable future” and the 20 or so employees answering phones will continue registering seniors for future vaccine appointments, according to county officials.

For this week only, the hotline will be open Saturday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

As of Thursday afternoon, 7,180 people in Polk County had received COVID-19 vaccinations according to the latest update from the Florida Department of Health. Many of those are nursing home residents and front-line health care workers, who have been prioritized by the state of Florida for vaccines, along with residents who are 65 or older.

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