HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- Opportunities to get vaccinated against COVID-19 are expanding each week in Virginia, and coordinators are working tirelessly to get people scheduled for appointments.
"We want to reach you, so please pick up your phone" is Jennifer Welch's message to the community.
She oversees registration efforts for clinics at the Richmond Raceway and also leads the Henrico County call center.
"We saw a need for us to actually reach out to citizens that didn't have emails to actually get them scheduled for events at the Richmond Raceway," said Welch.
Forty-one staff members and volunteers make calls every day to schedule folks for vaccine appointments.
"I mean we have people who cry on us sometimes they're so happy," Welch said.
RELATED: Preregister for the COVID-19 vaccine on the Vaccinate Virginia website or call 877-VAX-IN-VA (877-275-8343)
But booking those appointments takes two, and volunteers and employees are having issues reaching people.
"We're only reaching one third of the people we try and reach," Welch explained.
Welch said a large fraction of folks ignore the call because it pops up as spam.
"Our biggest challenge is working with cell phone providers and seeing if there's a way to put our number into 'it's not spam,'" said Welch.
Other Henrico officials are echoing Welch's call following a lower-than-expected turnout Saturday at what could've been the Richmond-Henrico Health Districts' largest scale clinic.
"One of the challenges we've faced over the pandemic and vaccination efforts has been registration systems because we know some citizens in our community are confused," said
Jackson Baynard who manages emergency services in Henrico.
Officials hoped to vaccinate up to 5,800 seniors, but Baynard said they fell short and only reached between 3,000-3,300 people.
"Rest assured, none of this vaccine will go to waste," Baynard said. "Because we will just create another clinic next week."
As more mass vaccination clinics are planned for this week, leaders can't stress it enough. If you don't want to miss your shot, answer your phone.
"We want to get you scheduled, and we are doing everything we can for that to happen," said Welch.
Meanwhile, the Virginia Department of Health is urging people who pre-registered before the statewide system to verify or update their records. (vaccinate.virginia.gov)
Officials say it may be missing key information which could delay an appointment.