In this Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020, file photo, a patient receives an influenza vaccine in Mesquite, Texas. Credit: LM Otero / AP

Vermont will start vaccinating residents ages 75 and older Wednesday and will begin taking registrations for vaccination appointments for that age group Monday, state officials said.

The state will release a website and phone number Monday morning to sign up for a required appointment to get vaccinated, Human Services Secretary Mike Smith said at the governor’s twice-weekly virus briefing Friday, which was held virtually while a number of state officials are in quarantine.

“We ask that you go online and register if you are able,” he said. Relatives and friends of people who are eligible are urged to offer to help register them online.

A call center with roughly 400 receptionists will be available to take phone reservations, but “if calls flood in, wait times will be long,” he said. People should not call hospitals, doctors’ offices and anywhere else to register because it won’t work, he said.

Smith urged people to be patient and not to be discouraged. “We’ll have enough appointments for those who are eligible,” he said.

The state is planning to have 54 vaccine sites in 39 towns across Vermont, he said, urging residents to register for an appointment at a site close to their homes because of the allocation of vaccines to different areas of the state.

The website and phone number to register will be available Monday morning on the Health Department website, through social media posts and in news releases, Smith said.

“This is very important: When you make an appointment, please keep it. No-shows, late cancellations and disruptions to schedules delays vaccines for others and may cause doses that have been prepared to be spoiled,” he said.

Gov. Phil Scott and three state officials, including Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine, tested negative this week for the coronavirus after possible exposure from a participant at the governor’s recent virus briefings. They remain in quarantine and will be tested again next week.

Lisa Rathke, The Associated Press