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Fulton health board streamlining process for people to get second COVID vaccine dose

So many people are logging onto Fulton County Board of Health's website to book an appointment, it's causing the site to repeatedly crash.

FULTON COUNTY, Ga. — Scott Cooper couldn't wait to get his COVID-19 vaccine so he could finally visit his elderly father, a 35-year heart transplant survivor.

"I've not been able to see him because of myself being afraid to infect him or others at work," Cooper explained.

As a healthcare worker, he was able to get his first shot at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Jan. 11. But he told 11Alive Thursday, he's struggling to book another appointment for a second dose through Fulton County.

"I've been on their website each and every day since the 18th of January. I've called, I've given my contact information," Cooper listed.

He's not alone.

"We're getting hundreds of calls a day, hundreds of email messages a day and most are asking about getting a second dose," explained Fulton County Board of Health Communications Director Sheena Haynes.

In fact, Haynes said the board has had so much traffic online, their website has crashed.

"Our website has been crashing because we’ve had a ton of people go on our website to look for the link to sign up, and it’s not on our website - we had to take it down because it’s been crashing," Haynes explained.

Haynes said she understands people's frustration, but wants to let them know- they don't have to make the next move to book their second appointment.

"There's no need for you to go back on the website, and you don't need to call our call center," Haynes said. That's because the Fulton County Board of Health will reach out to patients by email or phone to schedule the second dose. The call should come two to five days before patients are eligible to get it, Haynes said.

"If you're scheduled to get your second vaccination on Feb. 1, then you should start looking for an email from us between Jan. 27 and Jan. 31," she explained.

For Cooper, that email won't be sent until the end of the month.

Haynes said most of their calls and emails have been from people reaching out much too early. So, she said at this point, they should just wait.

"There's no need to worry about not getting an appointment, because you will be able to get an appointment," Haynes promised.

She added there's no need to worry about the board running out of doses for second appointments. 

"I know that there’s some people who are concerned about not being able to schedule their second appointment, or they feel like they're maybe in competition with those who are looking for a first vaccination - second appointments are separate," Haynes explained. "So, there’s no need to worry about not being able to get an appointment, because you will be able to get an appointment."

Keep in mind, right now on the Fulton County Board of Health website, patients can't schedule an appointment for the first dose, but they can sign up for the waitlist. Then when spots open up, the county will contact them.

There's also a COVID-19 updates list. Haynes said patients can go to the website to join the list. Once they sign up, they'll get alerts every week as appointments open up. 

Finally, Haynes said the county understands lack of transportation can be a barrier for seniors, so if patients are older than 65 and need a ride, they board of health can connect them to a service to get their vaccination.