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After Criticism Of Vaccine Rollout, Lee County Begins Taking Appointments

Army Spc. Angel Laureano holds a vial of the COVID-19 vaccine, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Bethesda, Md., Dec. 14, 2020. (DoD photo by Lisa Ferdinando)
The Florida Channel
All appointments were filled within an hour. More appointments will become available as supplies become available.

The lack of an appointment system last week prompted some seniors to camp out in overnight temperatures in the mid-50s for a chance to get an initial dose of the vaccine.

Days after receiving for implementing a first-come, first-serve distribution, Lee County began taking appointments Monday for COVID-19 vaccinations.

All appointments for the week were filled minutes after a toll-free number went live, according to the county. There were 5,000 available doses of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine .

Initial analytics show that within the first 30 minutes of the phone line going live, There was an average of 50,000 calls per minute, with a peak volume of 84,000 calls per minute, the county reported. Dan Craig, CEO of Tidal Basin, the vendor providing the call center, said more than 100 employees were on hand to take reservations as the reservation system went live at noon.

"Callers who are on hold or were given the option to receive a call-back - and who left their number - are continuing to be processed," according to a county news release.

New reservations will open as vaccines are received . Check the county's webpage or follow on Facebook atleecountyflbocc or Twitter at @flhealthlee.

County Commissioner Brian Hamman said that with a population of more than 200,000 people age 65 and older in Lee County it is not a surprise that demand exceeded supply.

"Here is the good news: More vaccine doses will be coming to Lee County," Hamman said.

The appointment process announcement follows widespread criticism of the county's rollout last week. The lack of an appointment system prompted some seniors to camp out in overnight temperatures in the mid-50s for a chance to get an initial dose of the vaccine.

“I got a lot of hate mail in the last couple of days. I don’t think I’ve been called incompetent so many times in a string of emails ever in my career,” Lee County Manager Roger Desjarlais said last week.

He blamed the failed rollout on a lack of information in the lead-up to vaccine becoming available in Lee County and said an appointment system was in the works.

When appointments resume, the toll-free number to reserve a vaccine dose is 833-618-2001. The vaccine remains limited to front-line health care workers and people 65 and older.

Inoculations will be given at 16000 Chamberlin Parkway, Fort Myers. This is the site of the old Southwest Florida International Airport terminal parking lot, east of I-75, off Daniels Parkway.

For more information and vaccine screening and consent forms, see Lee County's website.

Copyright 2021 WGCU.

Originally founded in December 2006 as an independent grassroots publication dedicated to coverage of health issues in Florida, Health News Florida was acquired by WUSF Public Media in September 2012.