Vaccination Confusion: How A Florida Reporter Helped Anxious Seniors Get Their Shots

A healthcare worker administers the COVID-19 vaccine to a local in Tampa, Fla., on Jan. 10. Senior citizens in Floridas Leon County have had difficulty registering for the vaccine and a regional reporter tried to assist them.

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A healthcare worker administers the COVID-19 vaccine to a homeowner in Tampa, Fla., on Jan. 10. Seniors in Floridas Leon County have actually had problem registering for the vaccine and a regional reporter tried to assist them.

Octavio Jones/Getty Images

Davidson-Hiers sees taking those calls from readers as part of her objective as a reporter.

Volunteers are instructed not to leave voicemails, however Davidson-Hiers says some do, telling people they are contacting us to establish a vaccine consultation and will recall in 90 seconds.

Another county company began texting individuals confirmations that they were still in the system, “though they never ever tell folks where you remain in the system, which is another big question,” she includes.

So, when the Leon County Health Department began dispersing vaccines to seniors late last year, “I was just flooded with calls,” Davidson-Hiers tells NPRs Morning Edition. She got nearly 60 calls the first day and after that hundreds more after that.

Davidson-Hiers states that has actually triggered even more problems. Youre not going to address,” Davidson-Hiers says.

The department is organizing with the county federal government for volunteers to call seniors who have currently pre-registered to schedule vaccination visits.

As NPRs Greg Allen reported last month, “The haphazard vaccination system, which differs county by county, is tilted towards those who can keep an eye on social media and book visits online before the slots go out.”

But Davidson-Hiers states that once individuals have gotten across get their vaccine, “the process has been amazingly simple. They say it took, you understand, 20 minutes, 15 minutes of them waiting to see if they had a reaction. The individuals there are working as hard as they can.”

Marc Rivers, Taylor Haney and Simone Popperl produced and modified the audio variation of this story.

” A great deal of individuals simply jumped in their automobiles and drove to the health department that first day and they got immunized,” Davidson-Hiers says. But then the department started requiring individuals to have a visit.

Many people who called her idea they were actually calling the health department. Callers desired to understand: How do I get the vaccine?

Davidson-Hiers states that once individuals have actually gotten through to get their vaccine, “the process has been remarkably simple.

In Leon County, home to the state capital, Tallahassee Democrat press reporter CD Davidson-Hiers discovered herself in the middle of that turmoil. Shes been covering the pandemic for the newspaper and her telephone number is printed beside her stories.

Like locals around the country, countless Floridians are anxious to get the COVID-19 vaccine, but the process of signing up for the shots has been confusing. Until just recently, the procedure was different in each of the states 67 counties.

People who tried to call the department to sign up discovered themselves on hold for hours. “They got 300 calls within the very first couple of hours,” Davidson-Hiers says. “And their contact number crashed.”

The issues went beyond the departments phone system.

” Thats the beauty of local news, is you are available to your community.”

” So it was simply this entire confusion of what was going on,” Davidson-Hiers says.

Callers wanted to know: How do I get the vaccine? She states the county stopped accepting vaccination registrations online “due to the fact that theyve simply been flooded. That took place after about half of the countys 40,000 senior citizens had actually signed up, she states. Far, more than 29,000 Leon County residents have actually been immunized.

She states the county stopped accepting vaccination registrations online “due to the fact that theyve just been flooded. That happened after about half of the countys 40,000 senior citizens had signed up, she says.

NPR reached out to the Leon County Health Department but has not yet gotten a comment about the issues Davidson-Hiers explains.

The Health Department site now states that citizens 65 and over can sign up by going to a brand-new state portal at https://myvaccine.fl.gov/, however warns “it may be weeks before we are able to carry out the system and for them to get a vaccine visit.”

” People were attempting to make it through by e-mail and after that they had an online system that was a little cool to utilize that they then tried to upgrade,” Davidson-Hiers states. “But that triggered more confusion due to the fact that now you have a website that looks different than how people were utilized to it looking.”