Waiting in line for vaccine not realistic for many SWFL seniors

Published: December 29, 2020 7:23 AM EST
Updated: December 29, 2020 6:27 PM EST

Alan Boyd Sr., a Cape Coral veteran, said he and his wife were taken to get vaccinated at Lee County’s first site for seniors on Monday but were turned around and sent home.

They were already at their limits, Boyd said.

“Too bad, sorry,”  he added.

The same thing happened on Tuesday.

Frontline health care workers and people 65 and older are sleeping in their cars and standing in long lines hoping to get their first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, but that’s not an option for Boyd.

“We sleep in the car, we’ll never get out of it,” Boyd said. “We couldn’t sit out in that hot sun all day long. So I don’t know what they’re going to do with us.”

Flora Gonzales said she will stand in line for her mother so she doesn’t have to. Gonzales’ mother spends her days in an adult-care facility, yet it’s not considered a long-term care facility because she doesn’t spend the night.

Because of that, the facility is not considered a priority, so it will not have a pharmacy or clinic on-site to administer the vaccine.

Gonzales said making people like her mother wait in line doesn’t sit well with her.

“These group facilities were not included in the group for vaccinations,” Gonzales said. “So, you know, I’m very concerned … many individuals are very fragile that would have a hard time standing in line, being there for an hour or two waiting for the vaccine.”

Early Tuesday morning, there was mayhem when the line shifted, with people yelling and pushing.

Gonzales said it will be difficult to wait for the vaccine because she would have to leave her mother in the vehicle, with a heater on while she waits in line.

“I want my mother to be vaccinated because this virus is very dangerous,” Gonzales said.

The Florida Department of Health in Lee County did not respond when WINK News reached out to ask if there was something that could be done about this.

It’s a concern Lee County leaders are aware of, but as of now, there isn’t a plan to fix it.

“You can imagine,” said Lee County Manager Roger Desjarlais, “if you have an 80-year-old person in line who has underlying health conditions, how well are they going to be doing after having been in line for three or four hours?”

Lee County Commissioner Kevin Ruane said the county is aware of the issues people like Boyd are having.

“We are aware of the people that have ADA issues — people that are home,” Ruane said. “We are developing a strategy to obviously make sure we address those issues as well.”

Other counties began offering the vaccine via appointments. Lee County said it’s IT Department is looking into creating a similar reservation system.

For now, Boyd is left without many options.

“I don’t think it’s fair,” he said. “To be truthful, I don’t think they are running it right.”

For information on vaccination sites, in the region visit here.

People waiting for the COVID-19 vaccine in Bonita Springs as of 7 a.m. Tuesday. Credit: WINK News