Come Monday, another 2 million people will be eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine in Florida. For seniors trying to get their shot since December, the news isn’t received with a warm welcome.
Those eligible and loved ones of those eligible shared the continued frustrations the vaccine sign-up process poses on their daily lives. We also spoke to someone who understands those struggles and is doing what he can to help Florida seniors secure vaccine appointments.
“They’ve been frustrated with trying from the very beginning,” David Barbour said.
Barbour knows those seniors and knows they feel alone and helpless, so he’s taken it upon himself to help them make appointments.
“If we know them, we can help them,” Barbour said. “But there’s a lot of people out there that don’t have any kind of a network to work off of.”
Gov. Ron DeSantis said publicly Floridians 55 and up will be eligible for the vaccine relatively soon and all adults in April.
The eligibility expansions do help vulnerable people such as Mary Beth Adams.
“I’m Type 1 diabetic,” Adams said. “And we’re three to four times more likely to have severe complications from COVID-19 or death.”
She’s tried just as many times a day to make an appointment to get the shot.
“I think it’s ridiculous that you have to fight to get a spot for a vaccine,” Adams said.
Lawrence de Maria puts his wife first. She’s eligible for the vaccine. Patricia is also one of twelve kids, so de Maria says she deserves it.
“We have a Sunday Zoom with her, her family, which of course, children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, I mean, my screen looks like you know, it’s a collage of people,” de Maria explained.
But when it comes to getting a vaccine appointment, 68-year-old Patricia feels like she’s last in line with rollout updates and being the last of her siblings to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
“She feels like, and I feel like, she’s now been put behind a whole bunch of people,” de Maria said. “It’s been what, two months, I’ve been able to get my wife vaccinated? … so what does that tell you?”
It tells the de Marias there is an uphill battle, one they have to fight to hug and hold their family again. The governor promised more doses, and the de Maria’s promised their grandkids more visits.
“There was a shutdown right after they left, so if it hadn’t been for that, it probably would be 18 months or two years until I saw my grandchildren,” de Maria said.
As more websites and pharmacies offer slots, seniors worry it will only be harder to get vaccines. That’s why people such as Barbour have a message for you.
“If you can help somebody out, why not do it?” Barbour said. “You just can’t put your head in the hole and let the world go by?”