TAMPA, Fla. - For many Hillsborough County residents over 65, getting an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccine has not been easy. Some faced 6-hour wait times on the phones while others said the online portal kicked them off after multiple attempts.
The county admitted the customer service has not been the best, but said they are working to improve these issues on a daily basis. It has seniors frustrated and upset, with some ready to give up and others holding out hope they can soon get the shot.
"Every two minutes the wait time increased," Sun City Center resident Greg Sherman said. "I think when we finally just dropped the call it was up to 6 hours and 13 minutes wait time."
Wait times are just one of the issues facing Hillsborough County seniors.
Tuesday, the county opened up appointments for three groups: people ages 65-74, people ages 75-84, and people 85 and older. A total of 9,000 appointments were available, with 2,000 reserved for people 85 and up, and the other 5,000 split between the two other groups.
"We made sure there were appointments for each period so that way we could try to give people equal opportunity to get scheduled," said Hillsborough County Office of Emergency Management Operations Section Chief Iñaki Rezola.
Still, seniors who spoke to FOX 13 News said they were on hold and unable to get through before their designated time window for their age group expired. As of Tuesday afternoon, all 9,000 appointments were booked.
Seniors were urged to pre-register online at patientportalfl.com, which officials said would make it easier to sign-up the next time appointments become available.
As for the issues, the county is working to fix them and asks people not to give up.
"We recognize it wasn't the best of customer service we would like to deliver to the citizens of Hillsborough County, but at the end of the day we did expand the capabilities," Rezola said.