FRANKLIN, Va. - For several days now, a busy signal is what Janice Smith gets when she calls the city health department to book a COVID-19 vaccine appointment.
"It's fast busy or I'll get some kind of Verizon message,” said Smith.
Leaders say they are aware of the challenges.
"We have a finite number of phone lines that come into our building,” said Will Drewery. He’s the emergency manager for the Western Tidewater District.
But on Monday morning, Smith got lucky - the call went through.
"I asked her when she might get some [of the vaccine], and she said she had no idea,” she adds.
Drewery says it could be several weeks until they get more vaccines.
"Our distribution efforts are largely dependent on the allocation that we receive,” said Drewery, mentioning that it’s all about population. “Obviously, in areas where there is less of a population, there is going to be less vaccines available."
But there is still a need in the community for people like Smith.
"I'm part of the [Phase] 1b because of the underlying conditions,” she adds.
The Western Tidewater Health District established a new call center number. Dialing 757-514-4570 will answer some of the community’s concerns.
"They can tell you where we are in our vaccine rollout, what phase we are in and how quickly we are progressing,” said Drewery.
There is also a pre-registration survey he recommends people fill out to “put their name in the hat” for the vaccine.
Drewery says it’s the fastest way to get an appointment.
"It's important to remember though that even though you fill out that registration tool, it is NOT an appointment for a vaccine. Someone from the health department would have to contact you to make that appointment,” he adds.
Smith says she can’t wait for weeks. She is going to look for other options.
"CVS; if it's Walgreens; if it's the Franklin hometown pharmacy... I'm going to bridge on into other cities if I have to,” she adds.
Leaders are asking people to be patient.
To complete the pre-registration survey, click here.