SARASOTA COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Around 150,000 people in Sarasota County fall under the ’65 and up’ age group eligible for a coronavirus vaccine. Some of the older folks feel they’re being locked out from getting their vaccine due to a technology gap.
Right now, eligible people interested in getting a coronavirus have to make an appointment online.
800 slots opened up on Sunday afternoon and were gone within a matter of minutes. The same happened Monday afternoon. A spokesperson with the Sarasota County Department of Health tells 8 On Your Side 1600 appointments for Wednesday and Thursday have been filled.
Connie McManus considers herself one of the lucky ones. The 91-year-old admits the online process to snag a slot is virtually impossible for someone her age. Without help from her granddaughter, McManus says there’s no way she would have gotten one of the coveted appointments.
“I mean, they expect everybody to be able to be ‘techy’ which I am not and my old computer doesn’t work that well. If it weren’t for my granddaughter, I wouldn’t have gotten this appointment,” said the 91-year-old Sarasota resident.
Pam and Peter Baranyai have spent the past several days trying to make an appointment for their vaccines using multiple devices in their home with no luck.
“It is very very frustrating for everyone,” said Peter Baranyai. “It is not fair for the people who are giving the shots, it’s not fair for the people who are receiving the shots, it is just not an equitable system,” he continued.
The couple considers themselves tech-savvy, but feel for those who might not have access to a computer, the internet or have the skills to navigate a website.
“Luckily, we are cognizant. We are tech-savvy and we are able to do things, but if it is this frustrating for us I can’t imagine how other people feel,” said Pam Baranyai.
Dottie Garner who is nearly 88-years-old says she’s been looking forward to getting her COVID-19 vaccine, but like countless others, her attempts have been unsuccessful. She feels the older population should have priority.
“I don’t view people 65 years old in the same category as people who are 85,” said Garner. “I think it is more difficult for older people like myself. I know I am not alone and I just have to wait my turn and get lucky with an appointment.
The 87-year-old says she’s been on her computer every day trying to make an appointment. She’s even recruited help from family.
“I had five family members trying from different places in the United States trying to work on my behalf to get me an appointment unsuccessfully,” said the Sarasota resident.
McManus, who received her vaccine at the health department Monday morning, tells 8 On Your Side many of her friends aren’t even going to try to get vaccinated because there are too many hurdles.
“It is too difficult. I talked to several people and they said oh, we are not going to bother, we can’t do it,” said McManus.
8 On Your Side contacted the Sarasota DOH Monday asking how they plan to make vaccines accessible to the older population who may not be as tech-savvy as others. We were told the DOH is working on a call-in scheduling system or something similar. No timeline was provided.
For more information on Sarasota DOH COVID-19 vaccinations, click here.
Sarasota County has set up an alert system to share important updates about vaccine availability in Sarasota County. You can sign up for the alerts by texting SRQCOVID19 to 888777 on your smartphone.