WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Thousands of people anxiously sat in front of their computers once again at 6 a.m. Friday to try to get a COVID-19 vaccine appointment through Publix.
In the end, many were left disappointed.
Appointments in Palm Beach, Indian River, Martin, and St. Lucie counties were full by 7 a.m.
"It's not perfect, but we're trying to get there," said Maria Brous, director of communications for Publix. "We don't stop trying and we continue to make those enhancements."
INTERVIEW WITH PUBLIX SPOKESWOMAN:
Brous said Publix booked 36,450 appointments in about 90 minutes on Friday, in addition to 37,350 on Wednesday. Around 300,000 people logged into the system on Friday in an effort to land a highly coveted appointment.
The next window to make appointments at Publix will open on Wednesday, Feb. 3 at 6 a.m.
Brous urged Floridians to have patience with the appointment system, saying Publix is constantly evaluating customer feedback and testing changes in real-time.
"We continue to work. We hear the enhancements and changes our customers would like. We ask for patience as we work through the system," Brous said.
Publix said it's not necessary to have multiple devices open while trying to access the online registration system, but representatives do recommend you have the most up-to-date version of your web browser, have your insurance information ready to go, and know which stores and counties you're willing to get vaccinated at.
Seniors have described frustration with the process, as many said they woke up early to log onto the website, only to wait and then be told all appointments were filled.
Publix said it's best not to refresh the page and that you'll be alerted when appointments are available for booking.
"We bring folks in in groups into the waiting room. So as people come into the waiting room and we move them into the reservation system, as people exit the reservation system, then more people can come in," Brous.
Brous cautioned users that even if you get into the reservation system, it's not guaranteed you will actually get an appointment, as others are trying to make similar appointments at the same time.
"So having their information, how long it takes them to enter or look for the store location, trying to figure out all those details," Brous said. "Just because they came in, doesn't mean that they will be successful in appointment because they have to continue through that process. There's other folks that are trying to get that same appointment."
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced on Tuesday that 11 Publix pharmacies in St. Lucie County and eight in Indian River County would begin offering COVID-19 vaccine appointments. That's in addition to 67 in Palm Beach County and seven in Martin County.
Palm Beach County's health director announced earlier this week that Publix would become the primary way for Palm Beach County residents to book vaccine appointments.
As part of a pilot program with the state, Dr. Alina Alonso said new vaccine doses are being diverted to Publix pharmacies, a move that doesn't sit well with several county commissioners.
To make an appointment at a Publix pharmacy in Florida, click here.