Villagers who are desperate for the COVID-19 vaccine are angry about the lack of information about when the vaccine will be made available to them.
“We live in the Village of Pine Hills. I am 78 with coronary artery disease and my wife is 74 and she recently suffered a brain aneurysm. We want to know when we will be able to get the Coronavirus vaccine. We understand that folks like us who live in Seminole County can get vaccines now. When will Sumter and Lake counties offer the same thing?” asked Villager Edward Kippel.
Sumter County Commissioner Oren Miller said he has been inundated by residents eager to know when the COVID-19 vaccine will be made available.
“We are not getting information from the state. We are waiting on the state to tell us how many doses we will be getting and when they will arrive,” said Miller, a resident of the Village of Sanibel.
Initially, there were 2,500 vaccine doses shipped to Sumter County, Miller said. Of those 2,500 first doses, 2,100 went to UF Health The Villages Hospital. The remaining 400 doses went to medical personnel outside The Villages.
“We have no clue from the state when the second doses or more doses are coming,” he added.
Five high-profile Villagers with ties to the GOP – Diane Spencer, Steve Printz, Peter Moeller, Rich Cole and Doug Tharp – received the initial doses last week in a staged event overseen by Gov. Ron DeSantis. The event fueled Villagers’ desire to obtain the potentially lifesaving vaccine.
“There is no list, line, or registry available for individuals to sign up with to receive the vaccine through the Sumter County Health Department at this time,” said Megan McCarthy, public information officer with the Sumter County Health Department.
Lake County has announced that it will be offering the COVID- 19 vaccine to high-risk frontline health care workers and those 65 and older. The vaccines are to begin to be offered Wednesday, Dec. 30 at Lake-Sumter State College in Leesburg and at Cooper Memorial Library in Clermont.
However, Village of Silver Lake resident Kathy Strope said it’s been impossible to get through and sign up for the vaccine in Lake County.
“The phone numbers are unreachable. Busy, then hang up. No online signup. This is crazy. No way you can every get everyone signed up this way,” Strope said.
Strope is a retired public health nurse and said she feared the vaccine rollout here would be fraught with problems.
She said she and her husband have pre-existing conditions and have been essentially stuck at home since March.
“We were hoping this was the light at the end of the tunnel,” she said.