Collier County COVID-19 vaccine appointments quickly booked, again leaving many disappointed

Dozens of people waiting for callbacks about the coronavirus vaccine in Collier County let us know Monday Eventbrite sent them messages that said, “We’re looking for the tickets you requested.”

Screen capture of Eventbrite vaccine notification for Collier County COVID-19 vaccine appointments. Credit: via WINK News.

Collier County’s vaccine registration filled up within minutes to start the week, continuing to leave many people without an appointment.

“The most vulnerable people who need a vaccine are the ones who should be able to get it,” Ruth Holland said.

It’s starting to feel like a hopeless mission for Holland and her husband. The two have been married for 57 years and don’t want to lose each other to COVID-19.

“I have underlying conditions. I have asthma. I have breathing problems, and I’m just petrified,” Holland said. “I’ve tried all over.”

Ruth is one of many who got stuck at a screen while in the process of booking an appointment for a vaccine in Collier County when appointments went online at 9 a.m.

“It said you’re getting a ticket, and it specifically said, ‘Do not refresh,’” Holland explained. “I was just petrified to go anywhere else. I just stayed, and low and behold, it came on, and said all the tickets were gone.”

Barb Beachamp shared the same frustration as Holland to start her day.

“We had three devices,” Beachamp said. “The computer that I’m on right now, my husband’s tablet and his android phone.”

“You’re in line for the waiting room,” is another message many people received in Collier County for vaccine registration.

“As soon as I got on, I got this waiting room thing,” Tony Cimorelli said. “This is a new tactic by Eventbrite; I’ve never seen it before … It says, ‘Do not refresh your browser.’”

This wasn’t Cimorelli’s first time logging onto Eventbrite.

“As it was rolling along, all these popups came up saying ‘registration problem,’ and ‘refresh your browser,’” Cimorelli said. “Well, that contradicts what it says on here not to refresh it.”

Florida Department of Health in Collier County said there is an 8-minute window to complete the registration. If it says, “Looking for tickets,” in that time, someone else could have completed the form.

Cimorelli says getting onto a promising looking screen is getting people’s hopes up.

“I would rather just have an ejection thing come up saying, ‘Sorry, there’s 1,000 openings, and you’re 1001,’ so you didn’t get in,” he said.

DOH-Collier says appointments booked up in roughly 22 minutes, a major disappointment to some who were notified they were in line, but never landed one of the coveted time slots.

“We were waiting until 9:45 thinking that one of us were going to get one,” Beachamp said.

DOH-Collier said there is no selection process for who gets signed up for the vaccine and who does not. It says it’s due to the thousands of people trying to book appointments at the same time. One thing DOH-Collier recommends is to refresh the page even if the website says not to.

“I was waiting for an hour, and then after that, it said no more appointments available,” Mike Naploi said. “I’m confused about the selection process.”

Registration for this wave of vaccine in Collier County is closed, but there is a waitlist on Eventbrite.

“You shouldn’t be made feel that this is impossible,” Holland said.

To get on Collier County’s waitlist, go to this link, click the date you want to join the waitlist for, click “Register” and then click “Join Waitlist” at the bottom. The FDOH told us the waitlist is only for the date and time you sign up for, not for any future openings. You’ll receive an email if there’s a cancellation and it’s your turn to secure an appointment, but keep in mind you’ll only have 12 hours to see that email and respond.

RESOURCE: WINK News is working by the minute on a daily basis to bring our coverage areas in Southwest Florida the latest COVID-19 vaccine information from the counties you live in.

Visit our Latest COVID-19 vaccine schedules and resources story for rolling vaccine updates.

Reporter:Gina Tomlinson
Taylor Smith
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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