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Florida Reporter Helps Seniors Signal Up For COVID-19 Vaccination :

Florida Reporter Helps Seniors Signal Up For COVID-19 Vaccination :

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A nicely being care worker administers the COVID-19 vaccine to a resident in Tampa, Fla., on Jan. 10. Seniors in Florida’s Leon County have had trouble signing up for the vaccine and an space reporter tried to help them.

Octavio Jones/Getty Images

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Octavio Jones/Getty Images

A nicely being care worker administers the COVID-19 vaccine to a resident in Tampa, Fla., on Jan. 10. Seniors in Florida’s Leon County have had trouble signing up for the vaccine and an space reporter tried to help them.

Octavio Jones/Getty Images

Like residents throughout the nation, tens of hundreds of thousands of Floridians are anxious to get the COVID-19 vaccine, nonetheless the strategy of signing up for the images has been sophisticated. Until simply these days, the tactic was completely totally different in each of the state’s 67 counties.

As NPR’s Greg Allen reported last month, “The haphazard vaccination system, which varies county by county, is tilted in direction of these that may monitor social media and e-book appointments on-line sooner than the slots run out.”

In Leon County, residence to the state capital, Tallahassee Democrat reporter CD Davidson-Hiers found herself within the midst of that chaos. She’s been masking the pandemic for the newspaper and her cellphone amount is printed subsequent to her tales.

So, when the Leon County Properly being Division started distributing vaccines to seniors late last yr, “I was merely flooded with calls,” Davidson-Hiers tells NPR’s Morning Model. She acquired nearly 60 calls the first day after which an entire bunch additional after that.

Many people who known as her thought they’ve been actually calling the nicely being division. Callers wanted to know: How do I get the vaccine? The place do I’m going? Are they taking appointments?

“A lot of individuals merely jumped of their cars and drove to the nicely being division that first day they often acquired vaccinated,” Davidson-Hiers says. Nevertheless then the division began requiring people to have an appointment.

People who tried to call the division to enroll found themselves on preserve for hours. “They acquired 300 calls all through the primary few hours,” Davidson-Hiers says. “And their cellphone amount crashed.”

“So it was merely this entire confusion of what was occurring,” Davidson-Hiers says.

The problems went previous the division’s cellphone system.

“People have been attempting to get by the use of by e mail after which that they’d an web system that was barely funky to utilize that they then tried to switch,” Davidson-Hiers says. “Nevertheless that triggered additional confusion on account of now you can have a web page that seems completely totally different than how people have been used to it wanting.”

She says the county stopped accepting vaccination registrations on-line “on account of they’ve merely been flooded. And as public nicely being officers have deemed it, it was unsophisticated at best.” That occurred after about half of the county’s 40,000 seniors had signed up, she says. To this point, better than 29,000 Leon County residents have been vaccinated.

NPR reached out to the Leon County Properly being Division nonetheless has not however obtained a comment regarding the points Davidson-Hiers describes.

The Properly being Division web page now says that residents 65 and over can be a part of by visiting a model new state portal at https://myvaccine.fl.gov/, nonetheless cautions “it is likely to be weeks sooner than we’re able to implement the system and for them to get a vaccine appointment.”

The division is arranging with the county authorities for volunteers to call seniors who’ve already pre-registered to schedule vaccination appointments.

Nevertheless Davidson-Hiers says that has sparked rather more points. Some volunteers’ calls may be blocked on account of they don’t appear to be displaying native house codes or on account of their numbers are displaying as “unknown caller” on caller IDs. “In Florida, we’re all very used to that being a spam hazard. So you aren’t going to answer,” Davidson-Hiers says.

Volunteers are instructed to not go away voicemails, nonetheless Davidson-Hiers says some do, telling people they’re calling to rearrange a vaccine appointment and might title once more in 90 seconds.

One different county firm began texting people confirmations that they’ve been nonetheless throughout the system, “though they not at all inform of us the place you is likely to be throughout the system, which is one different big question,” she gives.

Nevertheless Davidson-Hiers says that after people have gotten by the use of to get their vaccine, “the tactic has been amazingly easy. They’re saying it took, you perceive, 20 minutes, quarter-hour of them able to see if that they’d a response. The people there are working as laborious as they’ll.”

Davidson-Hiers sees taking these calls from readers as part of her mission as a reporter.

“That’s the great thing about native info, is you may be discovered to your neighborhood.”

Marc Rivers, Taylor Haney and Simone Popperl produced and edited the audio mannequin of this story.

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