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Hundreds registered for COVID-19 vaccine in Gaston County despite tech problems

Gaston County will be holding its Phase 1B vaccine clinic this Friday at the Gastonia Farmers Market.

GASTONIA, N.C. — Gaston County registered more than 500 people for its upcoming Phase 1B vaccine clinic this Friday despite technical problems with its phone hotline.

The county said its hotline to make appointments got overwhelmed as hundreds of people tried calling in once when it went online Tuesday at 8 a.m.

Debbie Shires spent all day trying to get a vaccine appointment for her parents.

After calling and not getting through nearly 30 times, she has to wait until the hotline reopens Wednesday.

"Right now, it's a priority to get my parents vaccinated, and I'm just disappointed," Shires said. "It's just frustrating. I just hope for a better rollout."

Gaston County spokesman Adam Gaub said the hotline crashed despite successfully completing a stress test Monday night.

He said within the first two hours of the hotline opening, they received 400 voicemails, not including the people who were able to get through during that time period.

"We've been clearing the backlog all day of all those voicemails," Gaub said. "We've got a dozen different people that are working in the call center that are answering calls throughout the day."

He insisted the county will not run out of vaccines, and he said there there are still open slots for Friday's clinic.

He added once this week's clinic fills up, they'll continue bookings into next Friday.

"We're just asking for people's patience," Gaub said.

While Shires is trying to get her parents to the front of the line, Bill Seabrook is choosing to wait until his pharmacy gets its vaccine shipments.

"Let me take my place among the thousands, and that'll be just fine," Seabrook said.

However, he said he's bothered by how slow the vaccine is being distributed nationwide despite earlier promises from leaders.

"Why is it taking so long to get to the people, and what is the hold-up?" Seabrook asked. "Is it politics? Well, I don't know, but it could be."

Gaston County's hotline for residents to call to begin the pre-registration process for the vaccination clinic is 704-866-3170. County employees will staff the hotline from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. If all operators are busy, residents can leave a voicemail, and a county staffer will return their call to begin the registration process. Anyone who leaves a voicemail doesn't need to continue calling the hotline.

The vaccine will be administered at the Gastonia Farmer's Market starting this Friday at 410 E Long Ave, Gastonia, NC 28054.

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