TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Hillsborough County officials said Wednesday they fired the company in charge of registering seniors for coronavirus vaccinations after the outside vendor bungled the rollout. But 8 On Your Side kept digging and discovered the county did not reveal the whole story.
By all accounts, Hillsborough’s coronavirus vaccine rollout was rough. Seniors like Joe McDonald wasted hours trying to make an appointment.
“When given an opportunity to sign up and not being able to get through, that was pretty frustrating,” said Mr. McDonald.
Hillsborough County said OnSite Safe, the vendor hired to run the call center and registration website, failed. They were fired on Wednesday, but 8 On Your Side kept digging and found there was more to this story.
The county is also paying OnSite Safe thousands of taxpayer dollars to make sure seniors get those shots in an orderly fashion. While the company has been relieved of its registration duties, OnSite Safe is still running all four of Hillsborough’s vaccination sites, hiring staff and so on.
McDonald has questions.
“It makes me wonder if we can’t handle phone banks or an online registration – now to handle all of us, say in a parking lot, with vaccine – that’s a delicate situation,” said Mr. McDonald.
We wanted to hear from OnSite Safe.
A spokesperson for OnSite Safe released the following statement Tuesday:
“Technology issues are plaguing counties statewide during this coronavirus vaccine rollout. We prepared for the massive response but unfortunately, our system was also overwhelmed by the demand. We have worked hard to remedy the issues and have filled all of the 9,000 available appointments. We understand the frustration and truly apologize.”
When 8 On Your Side asked to speak with someone on the phone, it appears OnSite Safe mistakenly sent us this response meant for company insiders:
“IMPORTANT. make sure nobody responds. I had already told her we won’t be doing interviews and gave her the official statement yesterday.”
McDonald just wants to make sure his tax dollars are being used wisely. Next week, he’ll try once more to sign up for the vaccine.
“Dreading is maybe an understatement. I see myself wasting another half a day or another full day,” said Mr. McDonald.
In the meantime, the county says Hillsborough Fire and Rescue is at each vaccination site. They’re making sure people get in and out in less than an hour.
Are you having trouble signing up to get a coronavirus vaccine in the Tampa Bay area?
Fill out our 8 On Your Side form to report the problems you’re having.
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