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Editor, The Beacon:

At the pre-dawn hours on Wednesdays and Fridays, I wake up early to seek the elusive COVID vaccine. 

As a 77-year-old man with an underlying condition whose work as a tax preparer involves daily face-to-face (but masked) interactions with many people, I need and am eligible for the vaccine.

Mission Control, my den with four devices (desktop, laptop, tablet, and smartphone) opens at 5:30 a.m. Four screens light up, ready to launch when the window opens at 6 a.m. Mission will abort when Publix has no further vaccine appointments.

Things start off well. Volusia County has 3,200 appointments available. Certainly I can score one of them. Every minute, the screens refresh with reduced numbers: 2,813, 2,436, 1,929, 1,544, 1,057, 888, 576, 399, 251, 108, 64, and finally 10.

I count down to 0. Before I get there, the screen flashes “Volusia County: Appointments fully booked.” Mission aborted. Time 7:11 a.m.

On four separate days, I have tried to get an appointment, with the same result. Neighbors and friends somehow get through on the first morning they try, but not me.

At 9 a.m., I start the process all over again with Volusia County’s Eventbrite site in search of an opening at the fairgrounds. An even more frustrating experience, as the prompt says I can make an appointment, but fails to provide the link to the registration page. If I call the designated phone line, all I get is a busy signal.

9:30 a.m.: All appointments filled. Mission aborted, again!

There has to be a better way! There should be a way to register for a waiting list that will be used before seeking new registrants. Also, perhaps Publix could use their pharmacy messaging system to schedule appointments for their regular customers who qualify for the vaccine.

Of course, wide-scale availability will solve the shortage. But until that time, something must be done to make sure that those most in need, rather than those who are luckiest, can get the vaccine.

Joseph Comella



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