Polk COVID vaccine line gets 100 calls per second

When the Polk County COVID-19 vaccination line opened at 8 a.m. Friday morning, Rose and Carl Christenson were raring to go.

"We had the three phones going," Rose said. "I’m on automatic speed dial on all three phones; we just kept hitting it and hitting it."

They said for hours, they tried to make an appointment to get vaccinated.

"We dialed for three hours straight, constantly, with three phones. Constantly, constantly, constantly. And you know what? There just was no way," Rose continued. "We cannot get through."


Polk County seniors wait for vaccine updates

Lucy and Ernie Geist are not kids anymore. She is 78, and he is 81, which means they are in one of the most vulnerable groups for severe illness due to COVID-19.

The Health Department’s Nicole Riley says Polk County has about 1,500 appointment slots. But with nearly 145,000 eligible resident 65 and over, demand has overwhelmed supply.

Throughout the morning, they were receiving about 100 calls per second.

"We just ask our residents to remain patient," Riley said. "We know this is frustrating."

Earlier in the week, the Health Department's phone system was overwhelmed by seniors seeking appointments Polk’s first round of vaccinations. Riley says the 250 slots went quick.

But as fast as Carl and Rose worked this morning to get through, they never believed it’d be such a struggle.

"There’s other people worse off than we are, that need this thing, but they’re not getting it," Carl said. "It just isn’t right."


Polk 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.

RELATED: Polk County COVID-19 vaccine distribution

If you don’t get an appointment during this round, the Health Department says not to worry.

"We’re actually taking information -- their personal information -- to be able to put them on our registration list so we may call them back at a future date when those times are available again," Riley said.

Friday’s vaccination hotline in Polk County closed at 5 p.m., but it will re-open tomorrow morning at 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. for residents 65 and older. If there are no more appointments available, residents will be placed on a registration waiting list.

That number is 863-298-7500.