Lee County working to find solutions as concerns grow around "first come, first serve" vaccine sites

Posted at 7:56 PM, Dec 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-29 19:56:31-05

LEE COUNTY — Lee County said it’s making changes at its vaccine distribution sites after people experienced several issues.

The county is putting in place stricter line policies and social distancing measures, and it’s even considering an online registration system.

Hundreds more seniors came out to the STARS Complex Tuesday to get their dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and the scene was a lot like on Monday in Estero. People showing up early and waiting several hours before getting their shot.

We spoke with one woman who said those long waits are leading to elderly people getting injured.

Carol only wanted to be identified by her first name. She waited for her shot at Estero Park Monday, and she said she saw an older man get hurt.

“A gentleman had tripped over the cement by the parking area and didn’t even want to go in to get stitches because he was waiting so long for the shot," said Carol.

But she said, the more disturbing part was that people weren’t as concerned with his safety as they were with his place in line.

“There was someone that came in and just said can we get his number if he’s going to the hospital? I understand why she would say something like that, but I also want you to understand that that’s how important this is," said Carol.

Tuesday morning, we covered the second day of distribution as it began in Bonita Springs. Immediately, more issues broke out.

“It’s ridiculous. There’s no line, there’s no organization. There’s nothing. It’s just like a herd of people trying to get in as quickly as they can," said a man we spoke with in line.

“It’s almost like rats trying to abandon a ship, but instead they’re all trying to get closer to the building, and there’s no respect whatsoever for the people who have been here for hours and hours, and it’s kind of like a mob scene of senior citizens," said Jack, a man also waiting in line.

These types of issues are only happening in Lee County right now. Other counties, like Seminole and Osceola, have online registration for appointments to get a vaccine.

In a press conference, Commissioner Kevin Ruane said Lee County didn’t go that route because it wanted to get people vaccines as quickly as possible.

"Some of the counties have run into problems with crashes in their websites, so obviously we want to make sure we have the bandwidth. We want to obviously go through logistics. We’re working with it right now," said Commissioner Kevin Ruane.

Carol said, she hopes the distributions are better planned moving forward, but she also thinks the people on the ground are doing a great job.

"I want to compliment the Sheriff’s Department, I want to compliment the Parks and Rec Department, and the Health Department that was there. Everyone helped out in any situation that occurred. I would just like to ask the people that are in charge of setting something like this up to take the initiative to actually set it up," said Carol.

There will be three more sites open tomorrow. They're being held at the following locations:

North Fort Myers Recreation Center - 2000 N Recreation Pkwy. North Fort Myers, FL 33903
9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m., 2:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.

Lakes Regional Library - 15290 Bass Rd. Fort Myers, FL 33919
9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m., 2:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.

Cultural Park Theater - 528 Cultural Park Blvd. Cape Coral, FL 33919
9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m., 2:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.

If you are planning to wait in line, be sure to bring water with you. Some people are also bringing chairs and umbrellas to give them some shade.