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COVID-19 vaccination hotline established for Columbia County

by Rhett Gentry | January 18, 2021 at 8:05 a.m.

A COVID-19 Vaccine Hotline is now available for Columbia County residents who are 70 years of age or older to be placed on the waiting list to be vaccinated against the virus, according to an email from Columbia County Health Unit Administrator Twana Hendricks.

Hendricks said she encourages callers to try again if the line is busy when they call. She said in her email that the hotline will not provide any medical advice to callers, and will only be used to compile a list of individuals who wish to receive the vaccine.

“The general public, 70 and up, we are asking them to call the hotline where they can get on a waiting list,” said Columbia County Judge Denny Foster. “As soon as the vaccine becomes available, they will be notified by phone and instructed as to where they can pick up some paperwork to fill out prior to the vaccine date.”

The paperwork Foster referenced includes two pages of questions asking for a patient’s name, date of birth, Social Security Number, insurance information and other medical questions. Foster stated that having vaccine recipients fill out the paperwork ahead of time will make the process flow smoother.

First responders and health care workers that received their vaccines on Jan. 8, where vaccine recipients took part in a drive-through clinic, were able to hand off their paperwork, which was completed in advance of the clinic, to a volunteer prior to receiving the vaccine that day.

“We put this hotline into place to take the pressure off of the pharmacies in town. (The pharmacies) and the health unit are flooded with calls to the point that they can’t do their every day job,” stated Foster.

He said the hotline will allow those seeking a prescription from their pharmacies to get their call through.

Foster said those who call the hotline will first be asked if they are 70 years old or above. After the caller is confirmed to be 70 or above, they will be asked their name, their date of birth and a good phone number they can be reached at. The volunteer managing the hotline will then inform the caller to expect a phone call one or two days prior to the date their vaccination is scheduled for, and they should be able to retrieve their paperwork immediately.

When their vaccination appointment comes, recipients will be directed to the vaccination site by volunteers. Vaccinations will be administered in a drive-through clinic.

Upon arrival, vaccine recipients will turn in their paperwork, get the shot and then be monitored for 15 minutes to ensure they do not have an adverse reaction to the vaccine.

“If you do have a reaction to it, there will be someone there (emergency personnel) that can give you help,” stated Foster, who noted that no adverse reactions were reported during the previous vaccination clinics in the county.

Those who are 70 years of age or older who want to be placed on the list to receive the COVID-19 vaccine can call the hotline at 870-235-3711 on Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Those who would like to volunteer to accept calls for the COVID -19 hotline can contact Hendricks at 870-904-0215.

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