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MDGOVAX COVID hotline answers 160,000 calls in its first week

Calls taken 7am to 10pm, seven days a week
MDGOVAX website.jpg
Posted at 7:54 AM, Feb 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-23 07:54:43-05

BALTIMORE, Md. — So many people want to know when and where can they get a COVID-19 vaccination shot that it's putting registration websites and COVID call centers in high demand.

Many people were online and on the phone Monday morning trying to get one of those spots.

The state health department activated the MDGOVAX hotline a week ago Tuesday, and it would be fair to say the phone has been ringing off the hook ever since.

With vaccinations in high demand but doses in short supply, getting that shot in the arm takes some perseverance and a lot of patience.

Maryland's Chief Technology Officer Steve Kolbe said “the best strategy is to keep trying, because vaccine appointments are being made available everyday, through the state mass vaccine facility at Six Flags, and also at the M&T Bank facility.”

Kolbe reports the MDGOVAX COVID hotline received about 160,000 calls in its first week, calls from people who all have questions about getting vaccinated against COVID-19.

“We of course help schedule appointments for the state run mass vaccine facilities, we help callers identify vaccine providers closest to the geographically if they're looking for a more convenient location to them,” Kolbe said.

Kolbe says some people get their questions about the vaccine answered before their call gets answered.

“Currently about half of the calls that we receive, are addressed without a caller waiting for a representative. That's because we offer services through chat, through text messages, and also through the interactive voice response where you press a number and it would give you answers to common questions,” Kolbe said.

The number to call is 855-MDGOVAX, and it's available from 7am to 10pm, seven days a week, in English or Spanish.

“They provide a seamless transfer to the University of Maryland Medical System call centers for appointments at the facilities that are managed by the University of Maryland Medical System, so that would include the Baltimore Convention Center, and the M&T site that was just opened up,” Kolbe said.

The MDGOVAX hotline started with more than 300 advocates last week but Kolbe said that number already has increased to more 550 people answering calls this week.

“We've been tracking very carefully, as part of our making sure that we're providing great service for our citizens. We’ve been tracking our call volume, and we've been watching very closely to ensure that we have the right amount of staff,” Kolbe said.

Governor Larry Hogan has said additional appointments will be made available on a rolling basis, and that between 250 and 500 appointments will be opened up each day over the coming days.

Officials hope the stadium site will be able to give 2,000 doses a day by early March.