Florida’s new vaccination system renews hope for those struggling to make appointments

One Southwest Florida couple is holding on to hopes they’ll get a COVID-19 vaccine, and that hope is coming from the state in the form of a new vaccine reservation system.

However, the new system is still in pilot testing and the timeline for rollout has not been announced.

Florida is taking over scheduling appointments after weeks of frustration for people like Lou and Peg.

“My neighbor Lou, the first time I met him he came over with two beach chairs, that had little tables on them, and he says, ‘I feel so bad for you, your furniture is not coming.’ So that’s how we survived the first 10 hours here,” said Stephen Sulprizio.

Lou and Peg, both in their 80s, became fast friends with Stephen and his wife Pauline, but it has been a slow, sad 10 months. Peg is wheelchair-bound and Lou just made it through chemo.

“What a way to have to live whatever years you have left, OK. Just sitting in a house. It just stinks,” Pauline said.

These neighbors won’t settle for that, so they’ve been trying to secure appointments for the vaccine for Lou and Peg.

“They’re just great people. And we’re just trying to help them to get a vaccine so they can live a longer life,” Stephen said.

It’s a friendship founded on service and care – and a lot of trying.

“You name it, we’ve been on it. We’ve been up at 6 a.m. for Publix,” Stephen said.

“We tried everything for these people … we just want to help them.”

Lou and Peg haven’t given up, so their friends won’t either.

“Just something little we can do for them. Or try to do for them, I should say,” Stephen said.

“The elderly don’t know about internet, and how to get on, get these vaccines, and like I said, he takes care of her. She’s in a wheelchair. She had a stroke a few years ago. They’re just great people. And we’re just trying to help them to get a vaccine.”

Lou did manage to get an appointment at Publix, but he didn’t want to be the lucky one.

“He wheeled his wife to Publix when he was supposed to get a shot,” Pauline said.

“He says can I give my shot to my wife? And they said well, no, we have a vial with your name on it and we have to give it to you. He tried though,” Stephen said.

WINK News asked the Department of Health about those who are due for their second dose and are still waiting for a callback. They said that if you didn’t get a phone number, check your mailbox – they’ve mailed a letter with information on how to schedule your second dose.

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 COVID-19 vaccine schedules and information for SWFL story for rolling vaccine updates.

Reporter:Anika Henanger
Writer:Jackie Winchester
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