On Wednesday, Governor Gavin Newsom announced that everyone in California who is 65 years old and over can get a COVID-19 vaccine, but a nurse at Kaiser says it was a day later that chaos broke out at the undisclosed facility where she works.
“At some point, Kaiser members and non-members started calling in. We saw the line of people waiting on hold to get through to this advice line climb up to over 7,000 by last night. And people waiting on hold for three to four hours to book a vaccine appointment,” saida nurse, who wanted to remain anonymous.
She says Kaiser didn’t set up a separate phone line or system for all the COVID vaccine appointments people wanted to make after the governor’s announcement.
Instead – Kaiser gave people the number for the regular appointment and medical advice line.
“The problem is there are people that actually have urgent sick or illness problems that are also waiting in this line,” the nurse said.
Kaiser representatives said at a press conference Friday that they had four times the normal call volume Thursday at just one of their call centers.
When NBC Bay Area called the appointment line Friday, a recorded message said “Kaiser is unable to schedule a COVID vaccine appointment right now” and to call back tomorrow.
The hold time to speak to someone was much less, tough, than what was reported Thursday.
“Current hold time is between 45 minutes and one hour and eight minutes,” said the operator.
Kaiser released a statement on Friday that reads, in part:
COVID-19 vaccine supply is limited and unpredictable. The recent expansion of eligibility by the state to include individuals over 65 years old has challenged the entire health system including Kaiser Permanente. It is important to know that providers are informed of their vaccine deliveries on a weekly basis and at this time, we are awaiting additional vaccine delivery. As a result, most individuals will not be able to schedule a vaccine appointment.
According to Kaiser, it is also increasing call center staff and will tell patients up front if there are no available appointments. Depending on supplies, there may be a self-schedule option added next week.