The COVID task force in the New River Valley reports that around half of all the phone calls it makes to set COVID vaccination appointments – after people fill out the VDH online survey – are going to voice mail. The New River Health District advises that phone calls coming from 540-838-8222 should be picked up – they are from appointment setters. Again, that’s 540-838-8222.

(from VDH news release) (CHRISTIANSBURG, Va.)  — The COVID-19 Vaccine Call Center serving the New River Valley Public Health Task Force reported recently that up to 50 percent of all return calls the center made to individuals to schedule vaccine appointments were not answered, or went directly to voice mail.

Outgoing calls from the call center come from 540-838-8222. If you receive a call from that number, it’s the COVID-19 Vaccine Call Center, likely calling to schedule your vaccine appointment. Please answer, even if it’s labeled as potential spam.

Changes were made yesterday so that every outgoing call is identified as “NRV Health District” and “540-838-8222.” If you can adjust the settings on your phone to be sure to accept these calls, please do so. Citizens Cooperative, the call center service provider, also is in the process of verifying the phone number so it will no longer be labeled as potential spam. This process is under way, but may take several days.

“Call center volunteers frequently must make multiple calls to reach someone. We have learned that many calls are not answered because they’re tagged as potential spam, either by the user, or by the service provider as a service to its customers,” said NRV Business Continuity Team Public Health Director Ashley Briggs. “Under normal circumstances that makes perfect sense, but during a pandemic, in order to improve everyone’s response time, we really need the calls to go through and for users to answer them, as quickly as possible.”