Many in SWFL are frustrated by the COVID-19 vaccine appointment call back process

Reporter: Andrea Guerrero Writer: Drew Hill
Published: Updated:

Many of you have been sitting right beside your phone waiting for an 833 phone number to call you back after attempting to make an appointment to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Those calls will be continuing for the next three days. But the people waiting for those calls say the chance to see their family again is what keeps them by the phone.

The warmth of a hug is something so many of us took for granted prior to the pandemic. But now parents and grandparents are hoping that by getting the vaccine they can get those hugs back.

Lenore Treppa and her husband took Christmas pictures with their grandkids in 2019. So, never in a  million years, would they have thought hugging their loved ones would become but a distant memory.

“Our daughter who lives here that I can actually hug and kiss her because we haven’t for almost a year now,” Trepa said.

Pat O’Brien lives in Naples. “You just want to be able to see your family and hug those grandkids and just be able to feel more secure going out,” said O’Brien.

For the parents and grandparents, the vaccine is what they hope can bring those loving moments back.

“We were excited and waiting for that phone call and did receive it this morning at about 11:15,” Treppa said.

“We were really excited; it was like you hit the jackpot,” O’Brien said.

But, that feeling was quickly shut down for so many Saturday morning after receiving a call claiming there is a spot to get the vaccine but having that call ultimately disconnected.

“The first call was in English, the second call was in Spanish. I said I need English and she transferred me to the Lee County message and then there was nothing left,” said Joseph Drips of Port Charlotte.

Andrew Halliday lives in Lee County. “Finally somebody came on and said would you like English or Spanish? I said English, they put me on hold again and then I got a dial tone,” Halliday said.

Days after so many people made dozens of calls to secure a spot for the vaccine in Lee County, the rollercoaster of emotions continues.

“So you think you take two steps forward and now it feels like three steps backwards, so so close but so far,” said Treppa.

“Do we have to start all over? Looking for the vaccine somewhere else? You just don’t know,” O’Brien said.

Halliday just wants his call back. “Please call me back!” he said.

Everyone that spoke to WINK News says they did reach out to the county after the call they received on Saturday morning but only one of them heard back and was able to set an appointment.

We also reached out to Tidal Basin, the company in charge of the calling system, but have yet to receive a response.

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