Despite glitches, SLCO happy to see people wanting COVID-19 vaccine

Jan 13, 2021, 6:19 PM
(SLCO Health Department Executive Director Gary Edwards, at podium, describing the glitch that impacted their vaccine registry. County Mayor Jenny Wilson stands behind him. Credit: Paul Nelson, KSL Newsradio)
(SLCO Health Department Executive Director Gary Edwards, at podium, describing the glitch that impacted their vaccine registry. County Mayor Jenny Wilson stands behind him. Credit: Paul Nelson, KSL Newsradio)

SALT LAKE CITY –  Salt Lake County officials, SLCO, say they’re excited to see so many people registering to get the COVID-19 vaccine, despite some computer glitches this morning. However, it’s possible that not everyone who booked an appointment will actually get the vaccine when they expect it. 

SLCO say they were told they would be getting 25,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, and within a few hours on Monday morning, all of those appointments had been booked. Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson reported the appointments were a hot-ticket item, and people tried several different methods of booking one.

“They were dialing the phone and had a friend dialing in. There were multiple attempts for one reservation. That’s, I think, another error that we captured, now, for the future,” Wilson said.

In spite of the glitch that severely slowed down the county’s registration, Wilson says she’s happy to see so many people trying to be vaccinated.

She said, “I’m actually incredibly relieved that we were able to get through the glitch and be standing here a few hours later with our appointments full.”

Will Salt Lake County be able to honor those appointments?

The next task is to get the vaccine to everyone who scheduled an appointment, which may be easier said than done.  Salt Lake County Health Department Executive Director Gary Edwards said they’ve been told to expect 25,000 doses. However, they don’t actually have them, yet. So, there’s a chance not all appointments will happen as scheduled.

“If supply, for whatever reason, does not come through, then we’ll have to be letting individuals know that we don’t have the vaccine,” Edwards reported.

If you are over the age of 70, and you weren’t able to book your appointment, Edwards said you should check their website every week to see if the county can arrange more vaccinations.

He added, “We will be posting how many new appointments become available because of no-shows or additional vaccines.”

There may be some seniors who may not be technologically savvy enough to navigate their way through the registration process, but Edwards said they’ll have workers on hand to help those seniors over the phone.

“It’s the same appointment system, but [workers] are just making that appointment for them with the information the individual provides them [over the phone],” according to Edwards.

Where people shouldn’t turn to get their vaccine

The Salt Lake County Health Department wasn’t the only agency facing sky-high demand for the vaccine.  Intermountain Healthcare was flooded with calls, even though they aren’t coordinating any treatments.

Intermountain Healthcare Community Health and Prevention Medical Director Dr. Tamara Sheffield said, “We’re really having problems with our pharmacies and clinics being inundated with phone calls from patients saying, ‘I’m 70.  It’s time for me to get my vaccine.  Can I come in and get it?’”

Sheffield reported local doctor’s offices, hospitals and clinics will not be able to help people looking to get vaccinated, for now.

“For the doses we have and the populations that are looking for it, the local health departments are your source,” Sheffield said.

Eventually, people will be able to book a vaccine appointment through their primary care provider, but Sheffield added that won’t be for a while, and it won’t be on the same scale as the local health departments.

She said, “We will also have pharmacies and clinics, over time, singing up to provide that, but this is going to be with smaller amounts of doses available.”


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Despite glitches, SLCO happy to see people wanting COVID-19 vaccine