COVID-19 vaccine calls flagged as spam and sent to voicemail

Posted at 7:43 PM, Feb 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-01 19:43:04-05

CAPE CORAL — We heard from several of our viewers Monday, frustrated because their calls to schedule the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine were going to voicemail.

We looked into the issue, and we were able to get an answer. We spoke with Verizon, which said those vaccine calls were being flagged as spam.

The Florida Department of Health in Lee County has been working through a company called Tidal Basin to contact all of the people who need a second dose of the vaccine, but we learned Verizon had to make a quick fix Monday morning, because a lot of those calls weren’t getting through.

We talked with one man who said it frustrated him all weekend. Larry Atkinson showed us the list of voicemails he had stored in his phone.

"I’ve had a total of seven now attempts onto both my cell phone and our landline," said Atkinson.

Atkinson is supposed to get his second dose by Wednesday at the site in Lee County, but he simply can’t answer the call.

"The only message I got that I had a call was you just got a voicemail. There was no ringing whatsoever," said Atkinson.

And when you try to call the number back, it just hangs up on you.

"Out of frustration, I changed our voicemail on my voicemail greeting that we’re having problems with our cell phone," said Atkinson.

One of the Tidal Basin representatives got the message, but it didn’t do any good.

"A simple solution I would think would be for them to have a phone number you could call back," said Atkinson.

After reaching out to Verizon about the issue, we were told the company found a different solution. It responded, saying the phone number was given "a positive scoring adjustment" Monday morning. It also said "To make sure these callbacks come through, simply add the phone number to your phone contacts and it will be allowed through the spam filter."

The phone number to add to your contacts is (239) 747-6715.

Shortly after this piece aired, we were told Atkinson did get a call and has an appointment scheduled for Thursday. But Verizon told us, even though it fixed the problem on its end, other service providers may still be flagging Tidal Basin’s number as spam. It said if that happens to you, you need to reach out to the company providing your phone service.