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Frustrated seniors find COVID-19 vaccine appointments outside Palm Beach County

5.8% of Palm Beach County residents vaccinated, more than rest of South Florida
Posted at 2:48 PM, Jan 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-19 18:47:10-05

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Several seniors in Palm Beach County, frustrated with long waits and unsuccessful attempts to get vaccinated against COVID-19, are visiting neighboring counties to get their shots.

Contact 5 has reportedly extensively on the rough rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine in Palm Beach County.

RELATED: Thousands of people backlogged to receive COVID-19 vaccine in Palm Beach County | 1,000 COVID-19 vaccines shipped to Palm Beach due to 'miscommunication' | Palm Beach County health director admits to 'very big problems' with COVID-19 vaccine rollout

Now, Contact 5 has learned some seniors are finding vaccination appointments more accessible outside of Palm Beach County.

"I have asthma and COPD, and I could not get an appointment anywhere," Marjorie Zimmerman, 76, of Lantana, said. "I tried and I tried."

Zimmerman was finally able to get the vaccine recently at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami.

"My application went through, and I was able to get a vaccination the following day," Zimmerman told Contact 5.

She wasn't alone.

"We would send a request on the internet and nothing ever came back," John Knapp, of Delray Beach, said.

Knapp and his wife, Ann, found appointments available, not in Palm Beach County, but in Opa-locka.

Ann Knapp receiving a COVID19 vaccine.jpg
Ann Knapp receives a COVID-19 vaccination.

When it came to booking an appointment, Knapp told Contact 5, "You would think this would be equal to all counties."

Contact 5 looked at the latest vaccination data from the Florida Department of Health, as well as statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau, which show that, as of Jan. 17, Palm Beach County has vaccinated 5.8% of its population. In comparison, Broward County has only vaccinated 4.8% and Miami-Dade County 4.4%.

Contact 5 placed an inquiry with the Florida Department of Health in Palm Beach County to get their take on why some seniors say it's easier to get vaccinated outside of the county, but the calls and emails haven't been returned.

Knapp credits his younger, tech-savvy neighbor for helping book the appointment for him and his wife.

At the same time, Zimmerman said, her daughter found a Miami-based Facebook group of volunteers who spend hours on computers getting vaccine appointments scheduled for seniors.

In the last week, the county has begun distributing small batches of vaccines to a few select cities and making the shots available at churches and community centers.

Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Tuesday morning that the vaccine would be available at all 67 Publix pharmacies in Palm Beach County.

But demand among the county's oldest residents remains far ahead of the supply, and frustrated seniors may continue to look outside the county to book their appointments.

"Here I am vaccinated already, Thank God," Zimmerman said. "But I'm glad I didn't wait."

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