Community Health Free Clinic in Cedar Rapids opens COVID vaccine waitlist for people 65 and older

Published: Feb. 24, 2021 at 10:37 PM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Community Health Free Clinic in Cedar Rapids opened a phone line Wednesday for older Iowans to put their names on the clinic’s waitlist for a COVID-19 vaccine, and it made for a busy day for the volunteers fielding the incoming calls.

“The phone has been ringing constantly. You hang it up, and it rings,” volunteer Jean Hopp said.

Over a five-hour period Wednesday, around 100 people called and were able to join the waitlist, after speaking with Hopp or another volunteer.

Community Health Free Clinic CEO Darlene Schmidt said they all felt compelled to do something after hearing so many stories about people ages 65 and older who are eligible to receive the vaccine but struggling to book appointments.

“Just the concern that they weren’t able to get on, or they were spending hours of their day, trying to get on themselves or signing someone else up, and it was just time-consuming and frustrating,” Schmidt said. “Even our patients here, many times, they do not have a computer. Even just trying to get ahold of them on the phone, sometimes their phone numbers have been disconnected because they didn’t have payment, so I can only imagine how many people just do not have access to a computer or someone to help them.”

People will be answering the phone for the clinic’s waitlist from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., Monday through Thursday, though Schmidt said they will likely take calls on Friday for the next few weeks as well.

Those 65 and older wishing to join the list should call 319-200-2550.

When someone calls, whether to get on the waitlist for themselves or for a family member or friend, they will need to give the following information: legal name, date of birth, address, their mother’s maiden name, and two phone numbers where the clinic can reach them.

“As soon as we get vaccine from the health department, we have some other volunteers that will take that information and call them and schedule them,” Schmidt said.

Schmidt also said people can drop off or mail a paper with that information at the clinic’s location at 947 14th Ave. SE in Cedar Rapids if they do not want to wait on the phone.

“I know people that have called today have said, ‘I’ve called five places. No one’s taking my name, but you are taking my name,’ and they are so polite and so grateful,” Hopp said.

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