TAMPA (WFLA) – Normally, when Debbie Bourne sees the world “spam” on her caller ID, she does not pick up the phone.
But Tuesday morning, while trying to make a vaccine appointment for her husband in Hillsborough County, she said she’s glad she did.
Bourne reached out to 8 On Your Side about another wrinkle in the county’s vaccine rollout after weeks of viewers reporting frustrations with the sign-up process.
“You don’t get to see family,” Bourne said of life during the coronavirus pandemic. “I mean I cancelled Thanksgiving, Christmas, birthdays.”
Bourne and her husband Marshall have stayed home as much as possible.
“We both have some underlying conditions,” she said.
Her 65th birthday isn’t until next month, so her husband is ahead of her in line for the covid-19 vaccine.
“My wife was the one who took care of this for us,” Mr. Bourne said, “so I was really happy about getting in there and getting that appointment done.”
Awaiting a callback Tuesday morning, the words “spam risk” popped up on the Bourne’s TV caller ID.
“I let her know that it came up as a spam risk and she says, ‘oh well that might be why no one is picking up’,” Bourne said of her conversation with the call center.
8 On Your Side has learned this is an issue with the vendor Hillsborough County hired to arrange vaccine appointments.
“Origination of call center numbers may not be recognized by local carriers,” county spokesperson Chris Wilkerson said in a statement. “While awaiting an appointment callback, we encourage you to answer all calls. Be aware that you will NEVER be asked for your social security number when scheduling a vaccination appointment.”
Around noon, Mr. Bourne managed to get his first dose of the Pfizer vaccine at University Mall and he looks forward to the second shot in three weeks.
For his wife, it was a simple reason why she wanted to spread the word about the false spam risk warning.
“Because I want everybody to get the shot just like my husband did,” she said.