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Seniors anxiously waiting to get COVID-19 vaccine

Palm Beach County has limited supply of vaccine
Posted at 9:28 PM, Jan 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-08 23:37:09-05

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla.  — The Florida Department of Health in Palm Beach County is working on a new messaging system to update the scores of seniors who are still waiting to get an appointment for the vaccine, but the wait can be frustrating.

"I was unable to do anything. I was willing to take her anywhere I could," said Ann Pepper, who has been manning the phones and sending emails for the past five days.

Pepper has contacted multiple counties in South Florida, desperately trying to get an appointment for her mother-in-law, Martha, who is set to turn 102 this month.

"Her anxiety is that she has very little time left, and she would love to go ahead and get the shot so she can see her great-grandchildren that she hasn't seen since like March," Pepper said.

On the opposite side of the coin, Joyce Hamzy was able to get vaccinated this week at her assisted living facility in West Palm Beach.

"I feel joyous, that's how I feel," Hamzy said. "I'm hoping everybody wants this vaccine and we can eradicate this horrible disease."

But there is a backlog in Palm Beach County with a limited supply of the vaccine. Doctors say the waiting is now causing anxiety and stress for some seniors.

"Is it coming to my community? When is it coming to my community? Why did this person get it and I didn't get it?" said Dr. Elaine Rotenberg, the clinical director at Jewish Family Services of Palm Beach County.

Rotenberg said JFS has been offering workshops and support groups to help manage the level of uncertainty since the onset of the pandemic.

"Whether it's through counseling or we've been doing a weekly support group, that's all open and available to the community," Rotenberg said. "Instead of thinking you're going to get the vaccine today, maybe if you tell yourself within the next two months, 'I will get it,' you might feel a little less stressed."

For Martha, she has the support of loved ones who said they will keep trying to get her an appointment.

"When someone is about to turn 102, weeks and months is a lot of time," Pepper said. "If we can just get her vaccination so she can enjoy her family at the end of her time."

Anyone interested in attending any services provided by Jewish Family Services can get more information by visiting alpertjfs.org.