Polk County trails 6 weeks behind on scheduling appointments for COVID-19 vaccines


POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – The Florida Department of Health in Polk County is scheduling coronavirus vaccine appointments for people who registered nearly six weeks ago because of the avalanche of sign-ups in mid-January, a spokesperson tells 8 On Your Side.

“It doesn’t look like it’s gone very far but it’s important to note that we received the largest amount of registrations on those days,” said Nicole Riley, a health department spokesperson.

The registration portal shows 9,327 people signed up on Jan. 14 and 10,460 people on Jan. 15.

“We make appointments for individuals based off of the supply that we have,” said Riley.

The Dept. of Health in Polk County receives approximately 7,000 first doses every week.

It is administering closer to 19,000 doses total this week, which includes this week’s allotment of first doses, second doses and 5,500 doses that were delayed due to the winter storm.

While a majority of the shots are administered through the registration system, some doses also go to senior living and faith-based communities.

According to state data, nearly 65,000 people in Polk County have received at least one shot.

Claudia Henthorn, 67 of Lakeland, is not one of those people.

“I’m not asking for a handout. I’m asking for what is due me,” she said.

Henthorn longs to be able to visit her daughter, Amy, who lives in Georgia and has terminal pancreatic cancer.

“I just want the vaccine so I can feel better about being around her before something happens and I don’t have the chance,” she said.

Henthorn registered for the COVID-19 vaccine on Jan. 14, three days before people currently being scheduled now.

She says she has called the call center, spoken with health department staff, and been told her name is on the list through the BayCare health system.

She’s going against her nature and answering the phone for any number that calls her. She still hasn’t heard.

8 On Your Side passed her name and number along to the health department spokesperson.

Many viewers felt Polk County was not vaccinating people like other counties because they had not heard about any vaccine drive locations or events.

The health department only informs people about the date, time and location of vaccine events if they are next on the list.

“We are having those big drive-thrus. We are having those big events. They’re just done by appointment so we’re not as proactively publicizing it because it’s not open for anybody to just walk up and drive through,” said Riley.

Riley also suggests seniors sign up for the vaccine through Publix, Walmart and Winn Dixie.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

April 24 2021 08:00 am

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