PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — More than 19,500 COVID-19 vaccine appointments were booked on Publix’s site in three hours on Wednesday morning.
The company said it continues to see a demand in Palm Beach County, as well as other counties since there is not a county residency restriction.
Reaching the 30,000 member mark this week, the creators of the South Florida COVID-19 Vaccination Information Facebook page have a lot to be proud of.
"In some ways it's very surreal to us," said Katherine Quirk. "In many ways, we’re just a nurse and a school principal and we started something to try and help a couple people and it's grown to something quite amazing."
Together with several volunteers, Quirk and Russel Schwartz have been helping people over 65 make appointments for the COVID-19 vaccine.
But now that school employees, law enforcement personnel, and firefighters 50 and older are eligible, they are seeing a shift in demand for appointments. Some volunteers reported Wednesday that they had less luck booking more appointments than usual.
"That may be because a brand new group has been introduced. You’ve opened it up to now an age group that is a little more tech savvy," Quirk said.
Still, thousands were able to make appointments on Publix's site and Schwartz said even though there are more people eligible to make appointments now, there are also way more options on where to book those appointments than when the Facebook group was first created in January.
"I actually did have one of my teachers who did book on Publix on her own today, and another one booked at CVS, so its definitely working people are getting through," Schwartz said.
And as demand increases, Publix is also enhancing its appointment booking site. From now on, when you enter your state, county, and store, the system will automatically reserve your appointment for 25 minutes while you enter your information.
Publix said you will be able to select a different appointment time, but the company said due to high demand, it encourages sticking with the first available appointment in the event there are no other available times. If you leave the page, it will be assigned to another customer.