Whatcom County officials ask public to stop calling about COVID-19 vaccine

Whatcom County officials ask public to stop calling about COVID-19 vaccine

BELLINGHAM, Wash. — Healthcare providers in Whatcom County are being flooded by calls and officials are asking the public to stop calling about COVID-19 vaccines.

According to the county health department, healthcare providers are reporting crashed phone lines and those hoping to get information about coronavirus vaccines can expect to wait for several hours if they’re able to get through.

As a result, people who need to see a doctor are unable to get through to their provider’s office.

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“More than 42,000 Whatcom County residents became eligible for vaccination on Monday, but in total there are only 1,000 more doses of the vaccine coming to providers this week. There is simply not enough vaccine in our community,” said Erika Lautenbach, Director of the Whatcom County Health Department. “We are asking folks in our community not to call their healthcare providers to ask about vaccinations at this time.”

Officials said instead of calling, people in Phase 1B Tier 1 should wait for their provider to contact them with information on how and when they can get vaccinated. 

“Many providers are expected to get in touch with eligible patients once they’re able to schedule an appointment,” the health department said in a news release.

Some healthcare providers offer updates via text message, patient portal or website. Vaccine providers and the Whatcom County Health Department will provide more information as the county gets more vaccine. Healthcare providers in Whatcom County are still working to get people in both tiers of Phase 1A vaccinated even as they are opening up vaccinations to people in Phase 1B Tier 1, officials said.

Providers in the county have only received about 9,000 vaccine doses so far, and it could take several weeks for people to be able to be vaccinated.

“We’ve all been really, really patient, for almost a year now,” said Lautenbach. “So patient, it hurts. We’re frustrated, and we know everyone else is frustrated, too. But we have to hang in there, for just a while longer. The end is still in sight.”