ROCKY HILL, CT (WFSB) -- There are many ways for residents in Connecticut to schedule a COVID-19 vaccine appointment.

One of them is to call the United Way Vaccine Appointment Assist Line, at 877-918-2224.

Connecting CT to the Vaccine: United Way sets up vaccine assist phone line

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Channel 3 got an exclusive look at the vaccine appointment call center in Rocky Hill on Tuesday.

“They initially start the call off with expressing how grateful they are to actually speak with a live individual,” said Zanah Salmon, lead contact specialist of the United Way of Connecticut.

She knows many people are frustrated after trying to make an appointment online to get the vaccine, because some of them ultimately call her for help. She’s part of the 125 contact specialists working the United Way’s vaccine appointment line.

Some of the thousands of calls each day are from people looking for information on when they might be eligible. But others are looking to make an appointment, a process that typically takes about 15 to 20 minutes.

When someone calls, a specialist will ask where they live and how far they are willing to travel.

Then, they will find appointments in your area.

CT Vaccine Rollout: Where to register for a vaccine if you’re eligible

However, some people might want a clinic that doesn’t work with the United Way, like a local pharmacy. The specialists can still help.

“There are a lot of different ways that people can look for appointments, and we can book them into an appointment we're going to do that,” said Lisa Tepper Bates, president and CEO of the United Way of Connecticut.

The United Way expects call volumes to more than double when the next group, ages 55 to 64, becomes eligible next week.

Therefore, they’re building out their technical support and beefing up their staff, including helping people in any language.

“That's where we think we have a particularly strong connection to communities of color, to communities that are traditionally underserved,” said Tanya Barrett, senior vice president of the 2-1-1 call center for the United Way of Connecticut.

Bristol Health has been taking appointments through the United Way because they want people to schedule appointments however they feel comfortable.

“They are definitely tech savvy; it's just a matter of being with them and supporting them,” said Albert Peguero, emergency preparedness manager for Bristol Health.

Call volumes for the vaccine appointment assist line are lower right now, but the United Way expects wait times could rise again with each new group.

“There are more people who want to get the vaccine quickly than Connecticut has vaccines available,” Tepper Bates said.

For more information on the United Way vaccine appointment assist line, click here or call 877-918-2224.

Channel 3 will be live at the help desk on Tuesday, February 23 at the United Way. Join Erin Connolly live from 4 p.m. until 6:30 p.m. on Eyewitness News for a behind the scenes look at the operation that’s connecting Connecticut to the vaccine.

Copyright 2021 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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