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Lee County manager reflects on vaccine rollout, wishes better system in place

Vaccine distribution across distribution in Florida is off to a rocky start.

Instead of Florida having a system in place across the board, the burden has fallen to counties to book appointments and distribute the vaccine.

Sixty-seven different counties are targeting the issue with varied results.

“There’s this from one-day-to-the-next balancing act, of getting appointments and having people get their vaccination, against progress that’s being made at the state level,” said Lee County Manager Roger Desjarlais. “It’s still a pretty fluid situation.”

Lee County’s plan of attack was one that garnered much derision. A first-come, first-serve melee that led to seniors waiting for hours in cold weather.

Desjarlais said he wishes the vaccine rollout was better. Desjarlais previously said the state is planning to introduce a statewide reservation system. No information has been released by the state on a reservation system.

Lee County is now trying a different approach instead of the first-come, first-serve fiasco. It’s also a different approach from last week when callers overwhelmed a call center contracted to take appointments.

On Wednesday, the county will release 1,800 appointment slots at noon that Desjarlais hopes will run smoother than previous weeks. The number to call is 1-866-200-3468.

Lee County said its increased call capacity and is hoping to have fewer dropped calls.

Those that have gotten a vaccine say it’s like winning the lottery.

Anne Miller, of Fort Myers, was close to giving up when she got an appointment. She is glad she didn’t.

In Lee, Collier and Charlotte County there are multiple ways to get a vaccine, each one with its own set of rules. The Health Department, the hospital, nursing homes and the doctor’s office.

It’s hard to keep track of all of the different options for the vaccine. Desjarlais said he initially thought he believed the vaccines would trickle down from the federal government to the states and then into healthcare organizations.

“It just didn’t work out that way.”

Instead, it’s been a learning process.

Reporter:Anika Henanger
Writer:Melissa Montoya
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