DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — Durham County’s Department of Public Health says it will officially retire its current online appointment booking system, although it has been temporarily closed since Jan. 28.
The county says the line was closed due to a shortage of vaccine supply.
On Friday, the county health department said the halting of the system is to be able to “quickly and efficiently schedule COVID-19 vaccinations and help ensure appointments scheduled are in line with expected [vaccine] supply.”
Appointments already scheduled through the online booking system are not expected to be cancelled at this time, though individuals who have scheduled these appointments will be contacted with more information.
Those with appointments scheduled online for next week, March 1 – March 6, will be contacted beginning March 1. Individuals with appointments scheduled online for after March 6 will be contacted no later than three days prior to their scheduled appointment date.
These individuals will be vaccinated on their original appointment time and date or be provided an appointment within a week of this time, as vaccine supply permits.
“With our original booking system, there were challenges in ensuring we’d have sufficient supply to meet the number of appointments scheduled,” said Health Director Rod Jenkins. “Because supply remains uncertain, and upon the recommendation of the State, we hope to move toward an online scheduling system that allows us to more easily book appointments that are in line with the vaccine supply we have been guaranteed.”
Officials say when public scheduling reopens, they are expecting to provide appointment options no more than two weeks in advance of the appointment date.
New scheduling processes will also aim to ensure appointments are only filed by individuals who are currently eligible to be vaccinated, the county said.
“With the old online system, our team was spending time canceling appointments for individuals who were ineligible to be vaccinated or who had already received vaccinations elsewhere. Fortunately our waitlist was in place and allowed us to fill large numbers of appointments that became available on short notice, but we are always looking for ways to make our processes faster and more efficient,” said Jenkins. “When we are able to provide a new online booking option, we will prioritize making sure our appointments are filled only by individuals who still need them and are eligible to receive them.”
No action is necessary at this time from individuals who have booked online appointments. All individuals will be contacted by phone, text, and/or email, depending on the contact information they provide.
The scheduling phone line remains closed for public use, due to limited vaccine supply, and a reopening date has not yet been determined. The county’s waitlist remains open for eligible individuals.