Pasco County senior struggles to find COVID-19 vaccine

8 On Your Side

TAMPA (WFLA) – The COVID-19 vaccine arrived in Florida more than two weeks ago but since then, the rollout has been slow and inconsistent.

Across the state, Florida’s seniors are waiting in long lines to receive a vaccine that’s in short supply.

8 On Your Side spoke with a 70-year-old Pasco County woman trying to track down a shot.

On the last day of 2020, Donna St. Martin was online and on the phone looking for an appointment.

“We want it, my husband and I both want it,” said Martin. “The two slots they had for today were already filled.”

Martin logged onto the Pasco County Department of Health website to sign up but no appointments were available.

“People just want to know where they stand and I think that would relieve a lot of the anxiety about it,” said Martin.

8 On Your Side is looking into Florida’s slow vaccine rollout. Some health experts say the problem is the federal government’s plan putting states in control.

However, USF Public Health professor, Dr. Jay Wolfson disagrees.

“The hold up is that we don’t have enough vaccines to go around and we don’t have a uniform clearly defined policy in the state,” said Dr. Wolfson.

He says the federal government produced the guidelines but the state is dropping the ball.

“What is the state not doing?” asked Investigator Mahsa Saeidi.

“The state is not articulating a clear operational set of guidelines as to how this will and shall be rolled out,” said Dr. Wolfson.

Wolfson says, by now, the state’s vaccine rollout plan should be set in black and white, so individual counties, like Pasco, could implement uniform rules.

“When should the vaccine be made available to 65 and older?” asked Saeidi.

“When there’s enough to get it out otherwise you’re going to create confusion and distrust,” said Dr. Wolfson.  “It’s going to be like people going to get three loaves of bread and 500 are in line.”

Along with a clear plan from the state, counties need more of the vaccine. Pasco County this week only received 3,500 doses but there’s over 100,000 seniors in the county.

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