TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Dozens of distraught Hillsborough County seniors who are days overdue for the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine have been reaching out to 8 On Your Side, so we went straight to Gov. Ron DeSantis to see what he’s doing to solve this problem.
At a news conference in Pinellas Park on Thursday, 8 On Your Side’s Mahsa Saeidi let Gov. DeSantis know exactly what seniors are dealing with as they try and fail to book an appointment.
There were long lines as seniors were turned away from Tampa’s University Mall site last week. And as of Thursday night, many seniors tell 8 On Your Side they still cannot book and confirm an appointment, as is required by the state.
“I was extremely distraught,” 79-year-old Margie Norris said.
Norris was denied her second dose on Friday. She was told to sign-up via Florida’s registration system online or by calling a 1-800 number.
“What happens when you log online or call to try to make an appointment?” Investigator Mahsa Saeidi asked.
“Not much,” said Norris. “I have probably spent 10 hours or more trying to get an appointment so I’m really upset.”
So why are seniors failing to get appointments? 8 On Your Side has learned there are at least two vendors in charge of making reservations at the state site.
Tidal Basin runs the 1-800 number but appointments are made on Sharecare. It appears there’s some sort of disconnect in the system.
With the clock ticking between the two required doses, 8 On Your Side asked Gov. DeSantis to help fix this issue.
“We will definitely look into that,” said Gov. DeSantis. “If folks are having trouble, we obviously want to be able to work to get them scheduled because we do think it’s important.”
8 On Your Side has made multiple in-person requests that Gov. DeSantis’ office release more details about the deal with the vendors. We want to know how much they are getting paid and who’s to blame for the technical issues seniors are dealing with.
In the meantime, Margie hopes Gov. DeSantis comes through quick with help.
“There are people getting the shots and there are those of us that aren’t,” said Norris. “I understand I’ve got two more weeks in which to get the second shot for this vaccination…to work for me.”
Gov. DeSantis also said this week that Florida has one of the highest second-dose vaccination rates in the country.
8 On Your Side will stay on this issue.