HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — Within minutes of launching a new COVID-19 vaccine registration system, seniors were already experiencing issues.
At 8:00 a.m. when the system opened for seniors 85 and older, Charles Bryan logged in to schedule an appointment for his sister. By 8:01 a.m. he received a message that no appointments were available.
“I was trying to login on the computer and it was saying the next vaccination would be available in 60 days,” he said.
Bryan attempted to get an appointment by using the call center. He was placed on a callback list with an estimated wait time of 54 minutes. Hours later, he still had not received a callback.
At 11 a.m. Bryan and his wife attempted to get appointments through the online portal and the call center but encountered more issues.
“I punch the button and I get all the way down to scheduling my second appointment, the website crashes, and I get a this message that a fault has occurred in this flow, please contact your system administrator,” he showed 8 on Your Side an error message he encountered during multiple attempts.
His wife Linda Bailey tried to get through to the call center only to be placed on a more than 3 hour wait.
“I’m 77 years old, I have diabetes and I’m overweight. I have heart issues and I have been told pretty much that if I get the Covid that I won’t be around anymore,” said Bailey, “My grandchildren live right across the street and we can’t be around them right now. We can look across the street to see them, you know. But that’s why I want to get it.”
By the end of their allotted time, only Bryan was able to get an appointment scheduled.
“It’s extremely agonizing to us and frustrating to us,” said Bailey. “They have got to do a better job.”
The couple is not alone. Callers flooded 8 On Your Side phone lines to report issues getting an appointment. Many reported online error messages, no appointment times available within minutes of time slots opening, and long call center wait times.
This comes after similar issues the previous week, prompted the county to create a new system.
By 6 p.m. Tuesday the county had filled all slots for the 9,000 available doses of the vaccine.
They’ll begin administering the second round of doses Wednesday. Appointments are mandatory.
Director of Hillsborough County Emergency Management, Timothy Dudley says, “Please be patient. We’re working hard to give you a great solution.”
Health leaders are set to distribute the vaccine at three sites from Jan. 13 to Jan. 15.
- Vance Vogel Sports Complex: 13012 Bullfrog Creek Road, Gibsonton
- Strawberry Festival Fairgrounds: 2700 W. Risk Street, Plant City
- Ed Radice Sports Complex: 14720 Ed Radice Drive, Tampa