WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Home health care workers told to "get in line" for the COVID-19 vaccine discovered there is no line. That's until Contact 5 started asking questions.
Allison Negri owns a home care agency. Last week, she went onto the Health Care District of Palm Beach County's website and clicked on the COVID-19 vaccination scheduler.
"I really thought that I just missed it," Negri told Contact 5 in an interview.
Negri showed Contact 5 the website, going to the dropdown menu, which she pointed out, "gave you four choices, which is four different age groups."
The options were 80-plus, ages 75 to 79, 70 to 74 and 65 to 69.
"I kept looking because -- there's no way that health care workers -- there's no way that that's not an option on that website," Negri said.
Contact 5 made inquiries with the Health Care District of Palm Beach County and the Florida Department of Health in Palm Beach County on Monday, asking why health care workers can't request an appointment on the website, despite the governor's executive order.
By Tuesday, the Health Care District updated the website with several additional vaccination appointment options, including health care workers with direct patient contact.
Before updating the website, a spokesperson for the Health Care District, sent Contact 5 this statement:
"The Health Care District of Palm Beach County is still working through the Florida Department of Health-Palm Beach County's waiting list at this time. The Health Care District will be rapidly modifying all criteria in accordance with Governor DeSantis' executive order while we give priority appointments to those from the waiting list. The Health Care District anticipates updating our online appointment request form over the next few days with the eligible categories, excluding long-term care residents, which will place those who register in our virtual waiting room."
Kyle Simon, director of government affairs and communications for the Home Care Association of Florida, wasn't surprised when Contact 5 shared the findings with him.
"It's unfortunate and frustrating, to say the least, that the 80,000-plus workers in this sector have not had access because of these vaccine sites not coordinating and communicating with the state," Simon told Contact 5 in an interview.
Simon lamented that it was "better late than never," but noted, "we're over two months now since the governor put out the executive order that did include home health."
Despite the website update, Negri plans to keep fighting for her staff, who are desperate to get vaccinated and keep Palm Beach County's vulnerable neighbors safe.
"They're frustrated," Negri said. "You know, they want it. They want to be safe for their clients."
Eligible residents in Palm Beach County looking to register for the COVID-19 vaccine through the Health Care District of Palm Beach County should visit this website.