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I-Team: COVID-19’s impact on PA 211

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EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — The rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine in Pennsylvania has led to questions and uncertainty for a number of residents across our region. PA 211, an information resource hotline, has seen their call numbers double in recent weeks.

Officials say those incoming calls are from people desperate to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

“Once the vaccine information was coming out people started looking for vaccine. As for different areas with our call volume has really spiked a bit,” 211 Director Tom Foley said.

The call volume has increased from the usual 2,400 calls each month to more than 4,000. Many of them are in relation to the vaccine effort in Lackawanna County.

“We started a new program in conjunction with Lackawanna County Area Agency on Aging,” Foley said. “We are adding people to a list of providers in Lackawanna County if they meet the requirements they get the vaccination in. They can start calling these people back or contact them some how, have them come into get a shot.”

Foley says getting a vaccine will probably not happen overnight.

“One of the things we’ve been trying to do is tell people that it may be a while for it to come down because vaccines are coming down from the Federal government down to the State government before they even get to the local government, so wait times may be nobody really knows how long it could be,” he said.

For those outside of Lackawanna County, PA 211 can only assist by providing other resources.

“Unfortunately, the best we can do with that is we would give them the State Department of Health they can contact them. On our website we have information about where to look on map see what provider in their area,” Foley said.

Chris Hughes is among those picking up the calls and reassuring those on the other end of line. She says many people are elderly and desperate to get the vaccine.

“Just to listen and try to say a few words that would be supportive, like you’ve come this far now, it’s been a year you made it through just need to hang in there a little longer until you get vaccination and things will be okay,” Hughes said.

PA 211 has also been answering questions regarding other pandemic impacts, including housing and food assistance. You can visit their website by clicking here.

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