Libraries helping schedule vaccination appointments
If you were to walk down a lineup of Botetourt County residents, about every fourth person you met would be 65 years old or older, according to the U.S. Census. It’s no small task to distribute vaccines – not once, but twice – to nearly 8,000 residents, and that’s not even counting essential workers.
The situation is further complicated by the fact that the 65+ population is less likely to have adequate access to technology or the skills to use it. Out of necessity, people with email addresses and internet access/savvy got first dibs. With every hand on deck to distribute vaccines, there was no time to call on the seniors who were left behind. Online vaccine scheduling is fast and convenient. Instead of spending hundreds of hours calling people individually, health workers can click a few buttons and notify hundreds of people within a few seconds.
Yet that quarter of Botetourt’s population – the most vulnerable to the virus – included many people who were left out of the loop. Seniors could call the hotline and be placed on a list to be notified when appointments were available, but no one had time to call them when the vaccines came in. Until now.
The Roanoke City and Alleghany Health Districts, part of the Virginia Department of Health, found a solution by enlisting organizations throughout the Roanoke Valley. At Botetourt County Libraries, we enthusiastically volunteered to participate by calling seniors to schedule vaccine appointments for them.
Volunteers, including library staff, share a list of people who, for whatever reason, cannot sign up for the vaccine on their own online. Using dedicated cell phones and iPads, several volunteers at a time use the same online list – edited in real time – to call eligible seniors and set up appointments on the spot. No robots, no endless hold music. Just real people offering real help in real time.
If you are 65+ and want to get the COVID-19 vaccine, but you don’t have a way to register yourself online or be notified of available appointments by email, we now have a solution:
- Call 1-877-VAX-IN-VA (1-877-829-4682) from 8am-8pm. This is a statewide hotline to pre-register for the vaccine.
- Your information will show on a shared list available to approved volunteers. All information is kept strictly confidential.
- As vaccine appointments become available, volunteers call people on the wait list in order of when they signed up.
- Once a volunteer (who may turn out to be your local librarian!) reaches you, they’ll ask you some questions and set up an appointment day and time for you.
- Go to the appointment, get your vaccine, and don’t forget to get help setting up an appointment for your second dose!
Bear in mind that the vaccine rollout will be slow, due to a variety of factors outside any individual agency’s control. We appreciate your patience, and we look forward to speaking with you soon to get the vaccine to as many people as possible, as soon as possible.
– Botetourt County Public Libraries