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The Villages
Sunday, June 13, 2021

COVID-19 vaccine site in The Villages flees muddy mess prompting long wait times

There was a mixture of confusion and appreciation after heavy rain forced a quick change this weekend at the Global Medical Response COVID-19 vaccination site in The Villages.

The company has once again been providing vaccinations in a grassy field near Buffalo Ridge Plaza after a rocky online rollout and abrupt shutdown in January.

Downpours on Saturday turned the field into a muddy mess and the vaccinations were moved to The Villages High School.

Clare Kromar of the Village of Sanibel said the line was unbelievable.

The Global Medical Response site was shut down Saturday when heavy rain turned the field to mud.

“My daughter and son-in-law, residents of Fernandina, waited in a line of cars for their Moderna shot at the charter school for five hours and 45 minutes! The line wound around the buildings, so they had no idea how long it was. That has to be a record wait time for the shot anywhere in the country! I don’t understand why someone couldn’t have given them the option of rescheduling. It was horrible for them,” she said.

John Kastura of the Village of Belvedere, who received his first vaccine dose at the Global Medical Response site, had feared that numerous cars and golf carts driving across the field would lead to disaster.

Mud became a problem Saturday at the drive-through Global Medical Response vaccination site in The Villages.

“During my visit four weeks earlier, I noted many rough spots and tire ruts on the field. When GMR tried to open on schedule on Saturday, a muddy disaster occurred. Some vehicles required a tow truck to be removed from the mud,” he said.

He said he waited four and a half hours in line for his second dose of the vaccine.

“During the time I was at the site, there were only one line and only one person administering the shots. I do not know if there was more than one person at other times; 28 days earlier there were four parallel lines administering shots,” he said.

Despite all the difficulties on Saturday, he said he was “thankful” to have completed his COVID-19 vaccination series.

Other Villagers were grateful, too.

“We were among the people fortunate to be cleared to receive our COVID vaccines from the GMR group yesterday. Like many, we waited in a long winding line for hours due to delays caused by downpours which turned the site into a mud pit,” said Carol Fischer of the Village of Caroline.

She said the Global Medical Response team performed above and beyond in the otherwise difficult situation.

“God bless the incredible workers for their dedication in moving the operation to another (dry) site, giving us the opportunity to receive our shots in spite of the last-minute change. Not only did they remain on duty well into the night, but they did it with grace, courtesy and professionalism. A huge thank you to all,” Fisher said.

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