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Many Lackawanna County seniors still waitlisted for vaccine appointments

Officials expect a third vaccine option will speed up their efforts.

SCRANTON, Pa. — Seniors from Lackawanna County can call 211 for help getting a COVID-19 vaccine appointment.

County officials tell Newswatch 16 they're fielding more than 1,000 calls to the hotline each day, but until more vaccine becomes available statewide, callers aren't getting appointments yet.

"They're a little disappointed when they find out they are being put on a waiting list for when we do have more vaccine coming into the community, and they're not getting an actual appointment, but we're working through that frustration. And also, because of the amount of calls coming in every day, there is a little bit of a wait time. The average wait time is about 30 minutes for people," said Jason Kavulich, director of Lackawanna County's Area Agency on Aging.

Kavulich said calling 211 is still the best option for seniors who don't have access to a computer. Anyone who gets their name on the list will eventually receive a call back with an appointment time at their preferred health care provider.

Kavulich expects that waitlist, which has several thousand names on it now, to start to shrink within the next few weeks.

"I think we'll see a bigger influx of first-dose vaccines towards the end of March, like middle towards the end of March. And we'll be able to start really moving through the 1A population," he added.

The news of Johnson & Johnson's approval for its one-dose vaccine will help, too. Though Lackawanna County officials don't know yet when they'll have access to it, it's a sign that vaccinations are about to ramp up.

"That can only make things ten times better, I mean, we can do one dose. Just take a high-rise, for example. We can get through two or three high-rises a day and not have to worry about coming back for a second dose. It will really help us move the needle in terms of getting more older adults their vaccine," Kavulich said.

RELATED: PA 211 offers free resources and help during pandemic