TAMPA, Fla. — At first, it sounded like terrific news.
Anyone in Florida 65 or older became instantly eligible for a vaccine when Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an executive order stating seniors will receive priority for COVID-19 vaccinations in Florida.
Counties quickly started to implement plans and two of the state's largest, Hillsborough and Pinellas, launched online registration portals Monday.
Within minutes people started complaining of website glitches, error messages, spinning wheels and crashes.
County spokespeople were too busy to answer their own cellphones or do interviews about the problems.
By Monday afternoon, there was even a fake website circulating in Pinellas County asking people for payment.
Cory Morrocco was one of many trying desperately to get her 77-year-old diabetic mother a reservation for a shot.
"I don’t know how anyone’s getting an appointment because you can’t get through! It’s like insanity," said Morrocco, who sat at three different computers for six hours straight trying to get on a schedule. She had called the Pinellas County Health Department at least 220 times in three hours without ever getting through.
"It’s terrible. You’re trying to protect your parents for God’s sake," Morrocco said.
There aren't any restrictions on residency, meaning you don't have to live in the county or even the state to get an appointment -- potentially creating even more demand all around as people from all different counties flood all different county websites.
Monday afternoon in Orlando, DeSantis bragged about the state's approach to vaccination distribution saying, "If you have a 73-year-old parent, 73-year-old grandparent, in the vast majority of states in this country, they are simply not eligible to be vaccinated."
Eligibility is one thing. Efficiency is another.
Morrocco said, "There is a light at the end of the tunnel and now there’s a brick wall."
However, after six hours that brick wall started to crumble when a stranger on Twitter sent her a message to call the Hardee Health Department, where she was finally able to get her mom an appointment for Thursday.
Morrocco says she will drive 19 hours from Rhode Island to Florida on Wednesday and then take her mother from Hillsborough County to Hardee County to get her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
DeSantis asked for patience admitting he can't guarantee 4.4 million Florida seniors will get vaccinated in a day or two but, "that’s going to be the priority."
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