PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — In just hours, there will be a new way to book appointments for the COVID-19 vaccine in Palm Beach County.
The Health Care District of Palm Beach County will launch a self-scheduling appointment website at 10 a.m. Saturday, which will allow residents to book appointments in real-time if spots are available.
"This new self-scheduling approach gives patients more control and removes the current multi-step process," said Darcy Davis, the CEO of the Health Care District, at a news conference on Friday. "There's no longer a virtual waiting room. There's no longer a waiting list. We're only limited, at this point, by the amount of supply."
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The site, which you can access by clicking here, was recently pilot tested using a live population of residents. However, Davis admitted the site was leaked on social media, allowing others to access it and make vaccine appointments before the official launch.
"The link, we have had to pilot it with small populations. And of course it got forwarded. Very obviously it was forwarded to social media. But that's part of the test," Davis said. "That's part of what we have to see happen in the live environment."
Starting on Monday, all Floridians who are 40 and older will be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. One week later, on April 5, all state residents 18 and older will be able to sign up for shots.
Davis admitted she's "concerned" about the "tremendous demand" the new self-scheduling site will receive, but she's confident it will be able to handle the flood of traffic.
"It has been stress tested. It was tested in a live environment," Davis said. "The directive and the feedback is don't let this crash. And I've gotten assurances from the vendor and from our technical people that they feel comfortable that we can handle what we know is coming."
Once you visit the site, you'll only be able to make an appointment if there are slots available at three locations operated by the Health Care District of Palm Beach County: the South Florida Fairgrounds near West Palm Beach, the South County Civic Center in west Delray Beach, and the Burns Road Community Center in Palm Beach Gardens.
For those already on the Health Care District's vaccine waiting list, Davis said you'll be prioritized for an appointment and contacted in the coming days.
Palm Beach County health director Dr. Alina Alonso urged the public to be patient now that Florida is rapidly opening up the COVID-19 vaccine to all adults.
"Supply and demand is still an issue in Palm Beach County," Alonso said. "We do not have sufficient vaccine to accommodate the number of people that will be asking for vaccines over the age of 18."
According to the latest numbers from the Florida Department of Health, 406,486 people have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Palm Beach County.