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Vernon sets up call center to help residents sign up for COVID vaccine while local hospitals put vaccinations on temporary pause

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VERNON, Conn. (WTNH) — The town of Vernon has opened a regional call center at Rockville Public Library after getting constant calls from residents wanting to know about the COVID-19 vaccine.

“Not everyone is on the same playing field technologically and to get into VAMS,” said Vernon Police Capt. John Kelley who helped man the phones Wednesday.

They are helping people sign up for the vaccine and even getting them an Uber ride to their appointment.

“They would pick you up and bring you to the hospital for your 3:30 appointment,” one volunteer is heard telling a caller. 

Today they expected even more calls after the town and Eastern Connecticut Health Network’s Rockville General and Manchester Memorial Hospitals announced Tuesday they are temporarily pausing vaccinations due to lack of supply.

RELATED: COVID vaccine appointments at Manchester Memorial, Rockville General Hospital canceled due to lack of supply

“We want to reiterate with you that this is a temporary pause,” said Vernon Town Administrator Michael Purcaro. “We also want to make a point that this is not unexpected.”

They say fluctuations in supply were expected. Last week, they had a surplus of vaccines at a local nursing home. This week the supply is down.

John Martin was among the last to get their first vaccination at Rockville General before the temporary pause.

“I feel good,” said Martin. “This way make sure I won’t get the virus.”

“It’s a very fluid process,” said Dan DelGallo, V.P. Outpatient Services for Eastern Connecticut Health Network. “Each week we don’t know how many doses we are getting.”

So far they have vaccinated more than 10,000 people with 7,000 receiving their first doses. The hospital will ensure they will get their second. 

The only cancellations are first vaccinations or second vaccinations for people who got their first one somewhere else.

“Once we receive confirmation of additional first doses we will open back up our clinic,” said DelGallo.

Until then, there are other options.

“We do have future clinics planned this week and in the future with available supply from all of our partners,” said Vernon Police Lt. William Meier.

The call center is open the same hours as town hall and the people manning these phones are a mix of people who work for the town and are on the clock and others who are volunteering their time, like Capt. Kelley.

“Today I have assisted eight,” said the Captain.

He says most residents really appreciate this extra help. 

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