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The Villages
Sunday, April 18, 2021

Villagers report better luck getting COVID-19 vaccine outside Sumter County

Villagers are reporting better luck getting the COVID-19 vaccine outside Sumter County.

Robert Pine of the Village of Lynnhaven registered with the Orange County Health Department about three weeks ago, even though they were not making new appointments at that time. On Thursday, Orange County opened additional appointments, and Pine was able to make an appointment for Friday.

“I drove to the Orange County Convention Center, got my shot from a very well organized operation, and was scheduled for the second shot of Moderna vaccine,” Pine said.

He said Orange County is administering 2,000 shots a day using a drive-through system.

“This is a model of what can be done if the will and resources are there,” he said.

He noted that at 2,000 shots a day in The Villages, it would take about two months to get everyone vaccinated.

Bjorn Wiberg of the Village of Tall Trees is “extremely frustrated and disappointed” at the way in which vaccinations are being handled in Sumter County.

“Through the word of mouth of fellow Villagers, we headed south to the Clermont Arts & Recreation Center on Monday morning where Lake County’s Health Department was administering the vaccine,” Wiberg said.

He said the trip was worth it.

“We found Lake County’s system of drive-through vaccinations, managed by super friendly volunteers and professionals, extremely efficient. No previous sign-ups or hoping to get on a call-back list. We just got in line with hundreds of other cars that were efficiently directed through the process which was so well organized and managed, putting Sumter County to shame,” he said.

Villagers confused after Daily Sun promotes site collecting sensitive information

Villagers were confused Monday after The Villages Daily Sun promoted a website offering free COVID-19 vaccines for those over the age of 65. The Daily Sun touted it as “Sumter County’s first large-scale vaccination site.”

Villager Earl Hearst received a push notification from the Daily Sun promoting the “Global Medical Response” vaccinations, which will reportedly be administered in an empty field behind Red Lobster at Buffalo Ridge Plaza. When the website required his Social Security number and medical insurance information, he feared it was a scam.

Villager Parker Sykes also was suspicious when he tried to register and was asked for the same information.

“Lots of questions and poor government organization. Sumter County website has no info, people won’t return phone calls,” Sykes said.

Villager Nancy Davis also tried to log onto the site, originally reported as https://sumterfl.safestart.net/ in Monday’s print edition of The Villages Daily Sun. The Daily Sun Facebook page later reported that the correct web address https://sumterfl.saferestart.net

“When you click on the internet address, you are taken to a variety of what appears to be spam/bogus websites,” Davis said.

The Daily Sun offered this update on its Facebook page at 5:30 p.m. Monday:

“Some residents have questioned the legitimacy of the program because the website asks for social security numbers, which the company said it requires for insurance purposes and to verify identity. Some users have also encountered ‘malicious malware warnings’ when they accessed the website, which the company said it is working to correct.”

It also announced that all 4,000 initial doses had been claimed.

District Manager Richard Baier has repeatedly told community development district supervisors over the past several days that the District is ready to offer recreation center parking lots for vaccination efforts. He said Community Watch would be available for traffic control. It is unclear why the Global Medical Response vaccination distribution is being offered in a grass field owned by the Developer rather than recreation center parking lots.

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