HIGH POINT — The six hours of repeated phone calls that Dean Kahl’s wife made to the Guilford County COVID-19 vaccination appointment line this past Friday turned out to be worth the effort.

The retired college chemistry professor emerged from the clinic in High Point on Monday morning grasping paperwork after his vaccination. Kahl was among the first to get a shot at the Guilford County Division of Public Health clinic in the High Point University Community Center at the former Oak Hollow Mall.

Men and women started showing up nearly an hour before the first appointments at 9 a.m. Monday, the opening day of the clinic.

Kahl told The High Point Enterprise that his wife called off and on for six hours, battling busy signals and disconnections, to secure an appointment for him.

“She was tenacious,” said the professor who retired to High Point after teaching at Warren Wilson College near Asheville.

Kahl qualified for a vaccine shot because he’s 78. The High Point clinic currently is giving shots to adults over the age of 75 — his wife is 71.

Guilford County public health officials acknowledge that they have been overwhelmed by the response of people trying to secure an appointment, which jammed up phone lines. All COVID-19 vaccine appointments are booked through Jan. 21, said Worley Smith, Guilford County communications manager.

The county has temporarily suspended the appointment reservation phone line. People wanting appointments can check the website www.healthyguilford.com.

The county took calls to set 5,000 appointments during the first 36 hours after the appointment phone line opened at 8 a.m. Friday, Smith told The Enterprise. The county’s goal is to offer up to a combined 500 vaccinations each day at clinic sites in High Point and Greensboro.

“We understand that everyone is eager to schedule their appointment and apologize for the long phone wait times,” said Heather Skeens, director of the Guilford County Department of Health and Human Services. “On average on our first day we saw over 1,500 people in the phone queue. We have been working through the calls as quickly as possible.”

Retired customer service center manager Wayne Morris, 79, of Oak Ridge said he made about 100 calls over three hours Friday before he got through to secure an appointment at the High Point clinic.

“I’m scared to death of this virus,” he said.

pjohnson@hpenews.com | 336-888-3528 | @HPEpaul

pjohnson@hpenews.com | 336-888-3528 | @HPEpaul