GREAT FALLS — The COVID vaccine sign-up process in Great Falls opened again on Thursday morning, and many people have contacted KRTV to express frustration, with many people leaving comments on our Facebook page and calling our newsroom. A sample:
- Carol Carr Lorang: I called about 20 times and they said it was not a working number. I was online while calling and it just kept spinning. When I did finally get to choose a date, it was always unavailable. I was on there promptly at 9 am. Hopefully some people worse off than me got appointments!
- Julie Young Brewer: I'm at pick a time and every time I pick takes 5 to tell me its taken, pick another time. I've done this at least 10 times, then it said full for the month, then comes back and says pick a date. Agggghhhhhh
- Laura Mann-Feist: I also have been trying to sign my dad up got to select a time and it booted me after the spinning for 10 min.
- Robert A Williams: I managed to get an appointment but when I went back to get my wife one I would get to the calendar/time page and when I picked a time I would get "Error on Page" and kicked out This happened about 5 times and then there was no more appointments.
At about 10:40 a.m., the City-County Health Department acknowledged the issues and provided the following update:
This morning, the phone line for the COVID-19 Vaccination List was overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of people calling in. It is now fixed. In the future, if the phone number doesn't work, just try again later. Don't forget that you can also skip the phone, and email the same information to firstname.lastname@example.org. You end up on the same waiting list that way.
The information needed is name, date of birth (MM/DD/YYYY), phone number, and address. The CCHD said that you can email the information at any time; email sign-ups are not limited to any particular day or time.
(JANUARY 27) The Cascade City-County Health Department in Great Falls announced on Tuesday that a phone-in COVID-19 vaccination registration process is now available for people aged 70 or older who are not able to use the online portal at www.benefis.org/covidvaccine.
A dedicated phone line has been set up so that community members can call to be placed on the list. The number is 406-791-9250. The CCHD says they will begin logging messages left after 9 a.m. on Thursday, January 28. They also note that it is not a CCHD number and staff members can not transfer people to this line.
Due to very high call volume and limited staff, this will be a voicemail-only line. All messages are time-stamped and will be checked and logged throughout the day, but callers should not expect a return call until someone calls to schedule their appointment. Like the online portal, the phone line is first-come, first-served. They ask that people do not leave numerous messages on the vaccination list line.
Callers must leave the following information in their message and should take care to speak clearly and slowly; the CCHD stressed in a news release that this information must be included in order for the caller to be placed on the list.
- Date of birth (MM/DD/YYYY)
- Phone Number
The CCHD explained that each week, when Cascade County healthcare partners Benefis Health System, Alluvion Health, and Great Falls Clinic learn how much vaccine has been allocated by the state for the following week’s vaccination clinics at the ExpoPark, a certain number of slots will be reserved for people on the vaccination list. This ensures that people who are unable to schedule using the online portal will be able to access some of the open slots. However, the public should be aware that a higher proportion of slots are available via the online portal, and individuals have a greater chance of getting an appointment using the online portal than the phone line.
If people want to be placed on the waiting list and do have access to the Internet, or if they prefer a method where they can confirm that their information was received, they can email their information to email@example.com instead of leaving a voicemail. Each email must include name, date of birth, phone number, and address. They will receive an auto-reply message confirming that their email was received.