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Publix looks to make sign-up easier on COVID-19 vaccine web portal

We’ve heard your frustrations: Many of you worried about the allocations of vaccines at Publix wondering why Southwest Florida has so little.

We learned there is a plan to make signup easier and for our region to get more shots into arms.

Publix says its online system will now automatically reserve the next available appointment for a patient after they select his or her state, county and store location.

Publix will hold that appointment for you for 25 minutes and allow you to adjust the date and time if you wish.

We looked at the map of Publix locations across the state, and we saw there are a lot more stores on the east coast where there seems to be more appointments open, and Publix told us people should consider traveling to those counties for their appointments.

Martha Simmons is 80 years old and says she’s tested positive for COVID-19 once, and she wants her shot, but she can’t drive far to get it.

“A lot of them are not booking up, but they’re so far from here that I wouldn’t want to make that drive by myself to go to one. It would be ridiculous,” Simmons said. “I think we need more overall, and I think we need more places that can get it.”

Gov. Ron DeSantis says he’s working on it. He wants to set up vaccine pods in counties such as Lee County with 175,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine that he expects the state to receive soon. He says those will go to law enforcement officers, firefighters and education professionals age 50 and up.

“It’s wonderful if they can do it,” Simmons said.

Susan Wilchusky lives roughly 1,000 miles away from Southwest Florida in Pennsylvania, but she’s one of thousands trying to secure a vaccine at a Publix here in Southwest Florida for her 80-year-old parents in Estero.

“It seems like the percentages available go down so quickly in Charlotte, Lee and Collier relative to so many of the other counties in Florida,” Wilchusky said.

Wilchusky told us she often sees several other counties with plenty of slots open on the Publix vaccine page, but Southwest Florida counties are all booked up.

“Week after week, you start to look at that and wonder if there are any adjustments being made for that supply and demand,” Wilchusky said.

Wilchusky and Simmons hope Southwest Florida can get the vaccine supply needed to make sure everyone who wants the shot can get it soon.

“Everybody should be able to access the vaccine,” Wilchusky said.

We reached out to Publix, the governor’s office and Florida Division of Emergency Management for more information about how vaccines are allocated to each county, and we are still waiting to hear back

Reporter:Breana Ross
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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