Frustration mounting for frontline workers trying to get COVID-19 vaccine


HILLSBOROUGH Co., Fla. (WFLA) — Beverly Yeshion-Roetter is a 65-year-old nurse practitioner. She considers herself a frontline worker, but said she wasn’t eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine early on because she doesn’t work directly with coronavirus patients in a hospital.

“Clinically you never know what patients will have it in an outpatient base,” Yeshion-Roetter said. “I’m very frustrated because I’m considered to be in a high risk group.”

She’s watched others on the frontline get vaccinated. She tried to make an appointment through Hillsborough County’s online portal on Monday. She also tried calling.

The county, in partnership with the Florida Department of Health, extended its call center hours and tripled the number of call agents Tuesday morning.

After calling nearly 100 times, Yeshion-Roetter still couldn’t get through Tuesday. By late afternoon she got the message that Hillsborough’s COVID-19 vaccine appointments were full and additional availability would likely open next week.

“It’s the same thing, call failed or call busy, there’s no way to get through,” Yeshion-Roetter said.

Director of Emergency Management for Hillsborough County Timothy Dudley said the county is still in phase one of its vaccine distribution plan that was outlined by the governor, so he’s asking people to remain patient.

“We’re going to move through the different phases and just as soon as we get vaccines available we will get them out,” Dudley said.

Phase I is categorized by limited supply of vaccine availability and is focused on long-term care facilities (residents and staff), front line healthcare workers, and persons 65 years and over.

Yeshion-Roetter is now scrambling, trying to figure out what to do next.

“I’m really not optimistic at this point and I’m pretty disappointed the mechanism could be better,” Yeshion-Roetter said.

You can read more about Hillsborough County’s vaccination plan here.


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