Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Tuesday that all Publix Pharmacy locations in Lee County and seven locations in Charlotte County will offer the COVID-19 vaccination by appointment only beginning Thursday.
By 7:03 a.m. Wednesday, all Charlotte, Collier and Lee County Publix appointments for Jan. 21 and 22 were filled.
Publix store locations without pharmacies are not included.
DeSantis made the announcement at the Publix at Midpoint Center on Santa Barbara Boulevard in Cape Coral, and some who overheard the governor’s announcement cheered once he made it.
“I’m thrilled to death, I’m thrilled to death,” said Julia Kreppin-Wissell.
“Great news!” said Sandra McDonald.
DeSantis thinks that right now, Publix is the path forward.
“Some of these counties have issues with websites,” he said. “The problem with the phone is you have to have a fleet of people.”
The governor said he thinks Publix has the infrastructure to handle the crush of people wanting appointments, and the ability to quickly expand.
Those at the Publix where DeSantis stood on Tuesday heard that loud and clear.
“One time I got a human being on the phone. Once. In my six days. One of my tries,” Kreppin-Wissell said.
“We called on the very first day, that day they had 86,000 calls,” McDonald said.
“I had 92 dials. Got it on the 92nd dial…it is disgusting because with older people, we really need it,” said John Hayworth.
Since each Publix Pharmacy only has 100 to 125 doses to administer, the chances are low that an appointment will be snagged, but Janice Martin is hopeful she’ll get lucky because like so many others, she needs that vaccine.
“Well, I have kidney disease, fourth stage,” she said.
Others like Connie Hayworth, who lost her mom to the virus, say getting the vaccine would mean something to them.
“It would mean a lot; I’d be thinking of my mother and all the others. It’s not just my mother, it’s all the others… it’s just terrible,” said Connie Hayworth.
The vaccines are only available for adults 65 years and older and are administered by appointment only. Appointments can be made online starting Wednesday, Jan. 20, for Thursday, Jan. 21, and Friday, Jan. 22, and again on Friday, Jan. 22, for slots open between Jan. 23 and Jan. 27. Appointments are not accepted by phone or in person.
According to the Publix website, starting Wednesday, Jan. 20 after 6 a.m., eligible customers can access COVID-19 vaccine appointment availability starting Thursday, Jan. 21. This includes the addition of Brevard, Charlotte, Lee, Martin, Monroe and Palm Beach counties.
Publix said that more than one appointment can be made at one time, meaning that one person can register two people.
Sixteen Publix pharmacies in Collier County began offering the vaccine on Jan. 14. Appointments for those locations can also be made online only.
You can watch DeSantis’ press conference below or by clicking here.