Hillsborough COVID-19 vaccine phone lines jam, leaving seniors 'disgusted'

Hillsborough County reached capacity Tuesday for its first round of COVID-19 vaccine reservations, capping a hectic two-day signup period.

At 4 p.m., county officials said all the appointment times for all 9,000 doses were booked, but more are expected next week.

The registration process, meanwhile, didn't go much better the second day than it did Monday, when the county launched its appointment website, only to have to shut it down hours later after a series of issues.

The county went to a call-in only signup system Tuesday and expanded its call center, but people hoping to get an appointment flooded the phone lines, overwhelming the system for a second straight day.

"Just sitting here and getting 300 rejections, I'm not making any progress. I'm really getting disgusted with it," said Charles Gurey of Valrico, who, along with his wife, are in their 80's and called more than 300 times without getting an appointment. "Do they even have any vacancies left? I don't even know that. Am I making these calls and I'm going to be disappointed because 'oh, we ran out of those hours ago.'"

COVID-19 vaccine distribution information in Tampa Bay area counties

As COVID-19 vaccines are distributed throughout the state of Florida, individual counties are beginning to release information about how and to whom the two-dose vaccine will be distributed.

Commissioner Harry Cohen told FOX 13 he expects a lengthy discussion during the next commission meeting Wednesday about what went wrong during signup period.

"I feel very badly about the fact, I think everyone does, that this process has gone so awry and we need to get to the bottom of it and fix it as soon as possible," Cohen said. "It's totally unacceptable. That said, our primary focus has to remain on the ball and the ball is to get as many people vaccinated as possible."

Cohen is urging people to watch the meeting and be prepared to take notes.

Vaccinations will begin Wednesday at four locations in Hillsborough County. It's unclear how many doses the county expects to get next week or when appointments will open up again.

Hillsborough County COVID-19 vaccine distribution

As COVID-19 vaccines are distributed throughout the state of Florida, individual counties are beginning to release information about how and to whom the two-dose vaccine will be distributed.