Hundreds line up in Estero to get first dose of COVID-19 vaccine

Published: Updated:
Hundreds of people waited in line in Lee County in late December for their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. (Credit: WINK News)

Lee County rolled out its COVID-19 vaccine for people aged 65 and older on Monday, and when hundreds lined up to get their shot in Estero, the county doubled the original number of vaccines to be given.

Many of those in line at the Estero Park and Recreation Center for the first round brought a chair because they knew they’d have a long wait. Vaccinations were scheduled to begin at 2 p.m., but due to the long line, they began at noon. The county also initially said it would only vaccinate 300 people at the site, but officials later said they would vaccinate 600, the number of people in line. The county is planning to vaccinate 400 at the other sites this week.

Along with those 65 and over, high-risk frontline health care workers can also get the vaccine at the county sites. The shots are first come, first serve.

“Everyone involved wants to make sure that as many people get vaccinated as possible, but eventually we will get to the one in which we can’t,” County Manager Roger Desjarlais said.

The county learned a few days ago it could start vaccinating people Monday. The demand is so high Florida Department of Health in Lee County is vaccinating more people than originally anticipated. It’s all part of a changing game plan.

County officials addressed a number of concerns during a press conference Monday morning, including how people will get their second dose of the vaccine.

You can watch a replay of the press conference below or by clicking here.

The county said it talked about making vaccinations “appointment only” to avoid the long lines, but it became too complicated.

There were already hundreds lining up hours before the vaccinations were to start. Some people arrived and promptly left once they saw the line. Others wanted to ensure they get their vaccine and showed up Sunday evening to secure their spot. The wait was worth it because to them, the vaccine is a sign of hope.

“It means seeing my grandkids. It means everything. We haven’t seen our kids since January or February,” said David Piwnicki of Bonita Springs.

Piwnicki was one of those who arrived at the site Sunday evening, as did Marie Petitti of Naples.

“He’s over 70, diabetic, and we thought like everyone, this is a life or death vaccine,” Petitti said.

Copyright ©2024 Fort Myers Broadcasting. All rights reserved.

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without prior written consent.