You can only imagine what it's like to work at the Otsego County Department of Health right now, not to mention ANY health department during the COVID-19 pandemic. It's safe to say "They've got their hands full" with the overload of phone calls coming in related to the virus.

Right now, the county's health department is receiving an overwhelming amount of voicemails from those asking about the COVID-19 vaccine and how to get it. In response, because they simply don't have time to field these calls, they have set up a COVID-19 vaccine information line: 607-547-4240.

On the Otsego County Department of Health facebook page, officials state, "We currently have no vaccine available. At this time the department is not able to take appointments over the phone. We are also unable to return voice mails. We have been overwhelmed with hundreds of voice mails. The new phone line listed above will be utilized to provide callers with updated information about vaccine availability."

I can tell you as someone who is attempting to help my vaccine eligible parents get their shots before they end up getting the virus, it has been a major challenge to navigate the New York State COVID-19 vaccine information on the state's health dept. website, which seems to take me in circles or leaves me with more questions than answers. I keep reminding myself when I get frustrated and angry after not getting anywhere in the process, that this is all new territory for everyone and that it's going to be a bumpy ride to success because of that.

Because our region's recent allotment of the COVID-19 vaccine has all been spoken for with eligible people in Phase 1a and 1b scheduled to receive it after making an appointment, there are currently no appointments left according to the Otsego County Department of Health. In case you didn't notice, those appointments filled very fast! Vaccine demand is greater than the supply right now.

This week Governor Cuomo said that the current vaccine phase we are in is likely to take 14 weeks. That means the end of April! So, take a deep breath, exhale slowly and try to remember that patience and understanding are the key ingredients to enduring the wait for vaccine availability.

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The best way, in my opinion to stay up to date with distribution, is to regularly visit the Otsego County Department of Health facebook page where they post the latest updates on COVID-19 related information. For those without facebook, you can call the county's vaccine info line mentioned above.

In the meanwhile, wear your mask and stay away from others as much as possible. It's the only way to slow this virus down because at the current daily rate of new coronavirus cases, we may end up with another shut down of businesses and organizations. No one wants that!

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