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September 23 2021 07:00 pm

Off by one number: Missouri girl inundated with phone calls from Arizonans looking for vaccine

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SULLIVAN, Mo. (KTVI) – A third-grade girl from Missouri has been swamped by phone calls from people in Arizona wanting the COVID-19 vaccine.

Eight-year-old Sophia Garcia and her family moved from Arizona to Sullivan several years ago. She got a hand-me-down iPhone that still has the Arizona number.

Sophia’s phone has been ringing like crazy for the past week.

“Out of the blue and at all hours of the day night, 24-7,” said Emily Lewis, Sophia’s mother.

After listening to voicemails and searching the internet, the family figured out the Arizona health department’s phone line for people requesting the virus vaccine is only one digit different from Sophia’s number.

It may have seemed like fun and games at first, but the ringing phone quickly became annoying.

“It was a very long night on Thursday with her phone ringing all night long,” Lewis said.

They were doing their best to cope when things recently changed. A 75-year-old Arizona woman left a message, desperate for help.

“I’ve tried your website, and it will not go through. It keeps coming back. Please help me,” the woman said.

Sophia became worried.

“It’s sad,” she said. “She’s been trying for many days.”

Sophia came up with a solution: She would record a message for her voicemail to let everyone in Arizona know to be careful when dialing.

It says, in part, “Hi, you’ve reached Sophia’s iPhone. If you’re looking for a COVID vaccine, their number is 602…”

The Arizona Health Department has not yet responded to a request for comment.

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