More than 15,000 calls per second reported to Allegheny Co. 211 COVID-19 vaccine phone line

PITTSBURGH — More than 15,000 calls per second were reported to Allegheny County’s 211 COVID-19 vaccine phone line, according to officials.

Only 750 people were able to be registered before it was shut down due to call volume, wait times and reported scammers.

The service was part of an expanded partnership between the Allegheny County Health Department and the United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania. The call center began taking calls well before the noon start time. On an average day, officials said there will be about 750 calls. In the first five minutes following the announcement of the phone number, there 653 calls.

The phone line was shut down before 4 p.m. due to the sheer volume of calls. People were overrunning the system and others were unable to get through.

The phone registration support was intended only for people age 65 or older who do not have internet access or who are having trouble navigating the registration website.

Appointments were for the Allegheny County Health Department’s Point of Dispensing inside the DoubleTree Hotel in Monroeville only.

By mid-afternoon, the ACHD learned that a hacker had gotten into the system. People were being asked by someone to send credit card information or gift cards in order to have an appointment made. The phone carriers involved are investigating that and it’s not clear which carrier was involved.