Sunday, February 21, 2021
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The Villages

Villagers grow more desperate as vaccine provider skips town with sensitive data

Villagers are growing more desperate after a vaccine provider skipped town with their sensitive data as the Coronavirus continues to spread like wildfire.

“I was one of the people left high and dry by Global Medical Response,” said Diana Trabanco of the Village of Liberty Park.

She had been scheduled to receive the COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday at the makeshift facility set up on a grassy field near Buffalo Ridge Plaza in The Villages. Global Medical Response announced over the weekend that the supply of vaccine had been exhausted, but suggested that appointments were merely being “postponed.” The company collapsed its tents, removed its equipment and disappeared Monday morning, leaving Villagers scrambling once again to find doses of the vaccine.

All that remained at a controversial COVID-19 vaccination site near Buffalo Ridge Plaza in The Villages on Monday was a tent, a Porta Potty and eight handwash stations. Global Medical Response canceled 7,500 appointments this past weekend while blaming a national vaccine shortage and then suddenly dismantled the site on Monday with no explanation for frustrated Villagers desperate to get the coveted vaccinations.

Despite some misgivings, Trabanco submitted her Social Security number and medical information to the Global Medical Response site, even though there had been warnings from consumer protection agencies that a reputable site would not be collecting such information.

“Now I am terribly concerned that my information may be available to sell, possibly on the dark web. I will be closely watching my medical expense reports and checking with Equifax,” she said.

Despite the concerns about Global Medical Response collecting sensitive personal information for a “free” vaccine, the operation seemed to take on some respectability when Gov. Ron DeSantis visited the site in The Villages last week.

A local resident pulls into a makeshift drive-through COVID-19 vaccination clinic located in an empty field behind Red Lobster at Buffalo Ridge Plaza last week as Gov. Ron DeSantis holds a press conference.

But the real questions concern the apparent disappearance of the promised doses of the vaccine. 

“I really wonder where the report of 90,000 available doses to be distributed for 90 days came from. Was it researched by governor’s office before it was accepted without proof?  I am really upset because friends in various parts of the country, including New Jersey are being inoculated.

I hope someone can get us answers,” she said.

Now, many Villagers are wondering what to do next.

My wife and I had appointments for the first shot for this week. I can’t help but agonize over what we will get first – the vaccine or the virus,” said Steven Andelman of the Village of Collier.

John Peters of the Village of Santiago also had secured an appointment for this week with Global Medical Research.

Who’s to blame? Hard to say. A rollout on such a nationwide scale would be difficult at best. But I find it hard to believe expected doses of the vaccine suddenly don’t show up,” he said.

Many Villagers were relieved in December when the governor visited The Villages promising that seniors would not have to wait for the vaccine. The governor watched that day as five high-profile Villagers with GOP ties received the vaccine.

“It is ridiculous that people that are compromised that are 65 and up cannot get a vaccine.  People that aren’t even compromised are given priority. That’s just not right,” said 66-year-old Julie Macintyre.

“DeSantis will never get my vote again,” she added.

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