DES MOINES, Iowa — It’s been a challenge trying to find COVID-19 vaccine appointments in Iowa, but the 211 hotline has been a big help along the way. U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst visited the call center on Friday to meet with some of the employees and thank them for their hard work.
211 Iowa has been around for 40 years in Des Moines as a nonprofit under United Way. Its mission is to help people get access to human services. Last year, the state selected 211 to advise Iowans on the pandemic. Now, 211 is helping people book vaccine appointments. So far they helped book more than 6,000 appointments.
“It has been an absolute wonderful experience for us to do. When we were asked by the Iowa Department of Public Health to partner with them and Hy-Vee to set up the vaccine hotline to help those individuals who are 65+ and 16 to 64 with underlying health conditions, we stepped up to the plate. We were able to get 75 temps at this point and start answering and fielding those calls,” said Melissa McCoy, the director of 211.
The people running the 211 hotline are hoping to continue the service for any crisis or issue Iowa is going through. They are looking to partner with the state of Iowa as a public-private partnership. 211 has helped with other disasters in the past such as the derecho and flooding.