Paul and Kathleen Wholey of the Village of Amelia had been scheduled for COVID-19 vaccinations between 5 and 5:30 p.m. Saturday at the Global Medical Response site set up in a field near Buffalo Ridge Plaza in The Villages.
They arrived at 4:40 p.m. as they had been instructed.
“As we approached the entrance, a Sumter County sheriff’s deputy was talking to the people in the car ahead of us. When they moved on, she waved us forward and told us to follow the car in front of us. As we started to follow them, we realized that they were directing us away from the vaccination site,” Paul Wholey said.
They couldn’t figure out what was happening.
“We drove around to the exit and finally got someone’s attention and asked what was going on. They said that they were closed. We drove back around to the deputy and asked her what was happening. She simply said that the vaccine was gone,” he said.
After frantic attempts to secure doses of the vaccine, they finally felt a sense of relief when they scored the Global Medical Response appointments. Then on Saturday they felt the terrible sense of being so close, but yet so far.
“How could that be? We were scheduled for an appointment. Surely they must have known how many people had been scheduled and how many doses they had,” he said.
The Wholeys could see people inside the area where the vaccine was being administered. Shots were going into arms.
“And yet they were telling us that all the vaccine was gone,” he said.
To say that they were disappointed would be an understatement.
“We thought we could finally see the light at the end of the tunnel but now we felt that the light was really a beam on the front of a freight train that had just run us over,” he said.
Daniel Olvey of the Village of Pennecamp was fortunate to receive the vaccine on Friday from Global Medical Response. However, his wife had an appointment on Monday and it is now postponed.
“My question is who failed the system here? Was it at the federal or state level? And, who can we contact to voice our opinions? It’s hard to fathom this was all put in place if the vaccine delivery was so unpredictable,” Olvey said.
Like Olvey’s wife, Bill Anderson of the Village of DeSoto was scheduled to get his COVID-19 vaccination on Monday from the Global Medical Response. He said he is “very disappointed” and wonders how the system has been run so poorly.
George Sonnichsen of the Village of Glenbrook said it is apparent the vaccine math is not adding up.
“It is no wonder that The Villages area is short of vaccine. If the number of vaccine doses is determined by the population of each state and then by the population of each county in the state it is not surprising that Sumter County will be way short of the necessary number for 65 and older since the proportion of 65+ is so much greater that the averages,” said.
He added that the situation is exacerbated by the large number of snowbirds now present who are not counted in the population statistics.
“If Florida had followed the CDC guidelines of 75+ in the first group, at least those in this most vulnerable group may have gotten the vaccine by now,” he added.