LAKELAND, Fla. — Friday marked the first opportunity for Florida residents who are between the ages of 60 to 64 to book a COVID-19 vaccine appointment through Publix.
Gov. Ron DeSantis announced the state is dropping the age of eligibility for Florida residents to 60 and older on March 15. However, because Friday's appointments are being scheduled for next week, Publix is allowing adults in that age group to start booking appointments now.
Publix said it booked more than 43,000 appointments on Friday. More than 12,500 of those appointments were educators.
Appointments booked on Monday or Friday will be for the Moderna vaccine, and appointments made on Wednesday are for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
"I was now eligible to get the vaccines and certainly looking forward to that," said Miles Cohen.
Cohen tried tried to book an appointment at Publix at 7 a.m. Friday.
"After waiting about an hour and a half, I managed to get to the point where you can book an appointment," Cohen said. "The closest appointment that I can find at the time was in Fort Lauderdale. So I booked that appointment in Sunrise for Tuesday morning."
After that, Cohen said he had to go through the whole process again for his spouse, but wasn’t able to get one.
Cohen said there has to be an easier way to book appointments for multiple people like in his case.
"If it was a system when you’re booking an airline flight. At the beginning of the thing, they ask you how many people are you booking for? So you book the same flight, the same time, et cetera," Cohen said. "It should be a very similar system."
By 9 a.m. Friday, all appointment slots were full for Palm Beach, Martin, and Okeechobee counties.
"Hopefully find something again and hopefully it won’t be as far to go," Cohen said.
Publix said it will continue to prioritize educators of all ages due to President Joe Biden's directive for the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program.
Publix said it booked 13,500 appointments on Wednesday for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, and about 47% of those appointments went to educators in that priority group.
The next window to make an appointment at Publix will open at 7 a.m. Monday. To book a COVID-19 vaccine appointment through Publix, click here.