Calling 211 for a COVID-19 vaccination appointment? Here’s why your wait time might be so long

VIDEO: 211 COVID-19 assistance call line address influx of calls, gives tips

TULSA, Okla. — The Community Service Council of Northeastern Oklahoma is reporting a nearly two hour average wait time for people calling 211 for help registering and trying to sign up for COVID-19 vaccination appointments.

Monday, 211 of Eastern Oklahoma Director Ashlie Casey gave FOX23 insight into what has been happening since the Oklahoma State Department of Health began encouraging people to call 211 for help starting last week.

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“Many people are mistaking us for tech support,” Casey said.

“And there are some things that we will just have to pass you off to the health department despite you waiting on hold for an hour and 45 minutes.”

Casey said the CSC has posted frequently asked Q&As on its website to help people without having to have them stay on the phone for at least 90 minutes.

With many people in the part of Phase 2 of the state’s vaccination plan being over 65, many of them are not tech-savvy and have been using 211 as a means to try to get signed up and an appointment booked for COVID-19 vaccines. Casey said younger adults need to help older members of their families with registration and appointment scheduling.

While 211 can do some things, it can’t do every step of the process.

She said they’ve shifted over multiple staff members to help man the 211 lines because call volumes have exploded in just the last week, and there will be someone to answer 24/7. There’s just no guarantee as to how long you will have to wait, and if they can resolve your specific problem.

Though 211 is experiencing long wait times for COVID-19 vaccine sign up and registration help, Casey said other services are not impacted by the long wait times and are still available with someone standing by ready to help as long as they make the proper selection when the automated voice begins to guide them through what they are looking for.