People turn to Publix for the COVID-19 vaccine, but problems persist

Reporter: Gina Tomlinson Writer: Jackie Winchester
Publix storefront. (Credit: AP)
Credit: AP

New day, same problem. People are frustrated while trying to get an appointment for their COVID-19 vaccine, this time from Publix.

Some described the process to sign up online as pretty easy. Others said they spent hours trying to refresh the page to make an appointment, only to find out all slots are full.

“For the first day of the rollout, I think it was organized. I’m sure they’ve learned from what happened today; it was a little slower than they probably would have liked,” said Mary Calabrese of Bonita Springs.

After battling for weeks to get the vaccine, Calabrese is done waiting for her shot.

“It was a little bit frustrating until Publix decided to do it, their website was a little easier to get through,” she said.

Her appointment at the Publix on Strand Boulevard in Collier County was just a drive away from her home, but as others using the website, like Soraya Ahmed, found out, scoring an appointment could mean a road trip.

“They gave me five sites; every single one of them were between 450 and 750 miles away from me,” she said. “You must be kidding me.”

Sixteen Publix stores in Collier County are the only stores – so far – offering the vaccine in Southwest Florida. Gov. Ron DeSantis said the state plans to keep growing and expanding the program.

“The urgency of this is pretty serious when you have all these underlying issues,” said Stan Roland, a Collier resident.

The vaccine is worth an extra mile for Roland, whose wife is fighting cancer. “She’ll be 80 this coming Friday. I ordered a cake for her in Publix here, but I’d much rather be getting the vaccine in Publix here very soon.”

Publix says to keep checking its website for appointment openings. For more information on how to reserve a slot and participating stores, click here.

RESOURCE: WINK News is working by the minute on a daily basis to bring our coverage areas in Southwest Florida the latest COVID-19 vaccine information from the counties you live in.

Visit our COVID-19 vaccine schedules and information for SWFL story for rolling vaccine updates.

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