State to train 750 workers for new COVID-19 vaccine call center

Call center being set up to register for COVID-19 vaccine

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - As the state continues working to administer vaccinations, Governor Ralph Northam announced Friday that a robust call center is in the works to help people get signed up for their shot.

The call center will act as a central hub that all Virginians — no matter where they live in the state — can call to get the correct, specific information to sign up for a vaccine.

“We are significantly expanding our call center starting Saturday. We will begin training more than 750 new call center workers that will be complete within a week,” Northam said. “Wherever you are in Virginia, you will be able to call this call center to get information and preregister if you are eligible for vaccination.”

State Vaccine Coordinator Dr. Danny Avula says the effort was made possible using part of COVID-19 relief funds from the federal government. Each of the 750 call agents are being outsourced to help to absorb the call volume that has been overwhelming local health departments since the rollout began.

“It’s part of the most recent $77 million coming to states to scale up a response to COVID-19 funding,” Avula said. “We are training the workers in understanding the current registration pathways that exist on every health department website making sure that they can steer people, and accurately walk people, through the right process.”

Avula says the call center will feed into the existing COVID-19 vaccine preregistration process. Those who have already preregistered for a vaccine won’t need to go through the process again, and they won’t lose their place in line once the call center goes live.

The plan is to have the call center go live within a week and last throughout the duration of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

“Obviously, as we get through this very acute three to four months where I suspect supply to not keep up with demand, we’re going to need that infrastructure,” Avula said. “As we start to see the demand drop off because we’ve gotten more and more people vaccinated, we’ll be able to scale down to make sure that we have the right volume of call center agents to meet the ongoing demand.”

The Virginia Department of Health is working with CVS, which has partnered with the federal government to receive an additional COVID-19 vaccine supply, to determine how it would function with the call center.

“We’re working through the details of CVS’s onboarding right now,” Avula said. “What we really want to ensure is that CVS’s process doesn’t create a separate loophole or pathway for those who have been waiting in line. So we are really working with both the CDC and with CVS in this retail pharmacy partnership to make sure that it’s integrated with our state plan.”

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