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The Villages
Sunday, April 18, 2021

Villagers frustrated as they try to secure spot in line for COVID-19 vaccine

As the number of COVID-19 cases soars locally, Villagers are feeling frustrated as they try to secure a spot in line for the coveted vaccine.

The Sumter County Health Department announced Wednesday that it has received 2,500 doses of the Moderna vaccine, not nearly enough to vaccinate its more than 130,000 residents. Sumter County Health Department Director Dr. Sanford Zelnick released a memo detailing how the limited quantity of vaccines will be distributed. Sumter County residents can call (352) 569-3102 starting Monday, Jan. 4 to book an appointment.

The announcement fueled further frustration in The Villages.

“So the latest for the Sumter County rollout is to call a number on Monday? That will be around 100,000 calls,” said Jack Leon of the Village of Sanibel.

He predicted the health department phone lines will “totally” crash on Monday morning

“Why not just provide an internet site for a general signup? Then randomly select people for their appointment. The county is inviting widespread dissatisfaction,” Leon said.

Paul Lindquist, also of the Village of Sanibel, said he is appalled at the incompetence of local government.

“We have known for months that a vaccine was coming, but no plan? Or to say, ‘We are waiting on the state to tell us what to do.’ Then to receive only 2,500 doses? Are you kidding me?” he said.

Expectations were raised last week when Gov. Ron DeSantis visited UF Health The Villages Hospital and promised that Florida’s seniors would be given priority when it comes to the vaccine. Five high-profile Villagers – Diane Spencer, Peter Moeller, Rich Cole, Doug Tharp and Steve Printz – received the vaccine as the governor looked on.

Villager Steve Printz, left, receives the COVID-19 vaccine Dec. 22 as Villager Peter Moeller, right, awaits his turn.

Lindquist said local government has to do a better job.

“It is time for the commissioners, especially the ‘for the residents’ three we just elected to find out what is wrong with the health department and just maybe, hire some competent people,” Lindquist said.

Claire McGough of the Village of Glenbrook offered a suggestion.

“Why not distribute the vaccine Village by Village? That should make it orderly when the vaccines arrive for distribution to the seniors,” McGough said.

Have you attempted to secure a dose of the vaccine? Tell us about your experience at [email protected]

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