Challenges and tips to securing a COVID-19 vaccine at Publix

Posted at 6:44 PM, Feb 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-05 18:44:34-05

LEE COUNTY, Fla. — On the verge of giving up. A Cape Coral woman has tried to get her elderly mom a COVID-19 vaccine at Publix for the last four weeks.

As soon as you log onto the Publix website, the countdown begins. You only have 60 seconds on the screen, before it refreshes with updated vaccine availability. You’ll eventually see thousands of appointments in 23 Florida counties “fully booked,” as Laurie Voll witnessed within 45 minutes Friday morning.

“It just gets frustrating. My mom’s 87,” she said.

Voll said she wakes up before 7 a.m. every Wednesday and Friday to secure her mom a slot.

“I have my work laptop, my home computer, an iPad and my phone,” she said.

But, she gets stuck staring at a list of counties that keeps refreshing.

“I just said I’m not going to try anymore. I just got so irritated. And then, my mom calls. She’s like did you get through today? Because you know, it’s about my sixth try. I’ve been doing it every Wednesday and Friday. I said nope, I didn’t. So, you’re not going out of the house,” she chuckled.

Fox 4 has received several complaints from viewers like Voll. Some saying they’ve gotten through to the actual booking page, but lost their spot in line because they didn’t have important information.

Publix says make sure you have your insurance or medicare card, social security number and ID ready to go before their site opens to avoid this.

“I have that, you know, all ready to go. I type 100 words a minute, so I’m ready to get it in there quickly!” said Voll.

She says it’s that 60-second timer that gets her. She suggested Publix limit registration to people 75 and up on either Wednesday or Friday. In a statement Publix said they’re considering customer feedback, but wouldn’t say whether or not they’ll change the age groups or refresh timer.

We are passionate about delivering a premier experience for our customers, whether they're in the store or online.

Over the last four weeks, since our first scheduling event, our teams have been studying customer feedback and making enhancements.

Publix also says if you do get through to the booking page, you can book appointments for up to four people in the same household. But, dates and times for each appointment may vary.

Publix says if you don’t have your insurance card on hand when you register for a vaccine online, that’s okay. But, you do need to bring it to your appointment.

The vaccines are free for customers, but the grocery store does bill your insurance or medicare for the cost to actually administer them. If you're not insured, you can still get vaccinated. In that case, Publix will bill the federal program for labor costs.