State not responding to issues with COVID-19 vaccine sign-up website

Jerry Powers and his girlfriend, Stephanie Walsh, have been trying to sign up for the COVID-19 vaccine since January. 

Powers, 73, and Walsh, 66, have been trying the Publix website, signing up through Marion County Health Department, and the state’s website. 

The state called them each twice offering vaccines, once on February 16 and then on February 22. 

"I’m a little bit disappointed because every time they try to give us an appointment in Broward County.  We’re 300 miles north of Broward County," Powers said. 

The couple lives in Reddick in North Marion County. 

FOX 35 News is determined to try to get the couple help. We've been working since Tuesday, dedicating multiple resources. On Thursday, when our team tried calling the offices of both the Florida Department of Health (FDOH) and the Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM), both had outgoing voicemail messages indicating that mailboxes were full. 

In 48 hours, neither returned emails specifically answering our questions.  FDOH sent an automatic response Thursday acknowledging it had received our inquiry.  FDEM sent an email just before the close of business Thursday apologizing for the delay and stating the agency was working on this.

The couple lives in U.S. Congresswoman Cat Cammack’s district.  FOX 35 News Reporter Holly Bristow called her office to see if she could help the couple. 

"We spoke to one of Rep. Cammack’s workers.  He tried to log onto the state’s website and experienced some difficulties. I said, 'Welcome to our world!'" Powers said.

He explained that the aide gave them a number for the county health department that they’ve been calling. 

"The second number he gave us didn’t do anything.  It’s a hotline number for professionals, COVID information," Powers said.  

Their state senator, Keith Perry, did not return FOX 35’s phone calls before this story was published.  State Representative Yvonne Hayes Hinson called our reporter back.  She asked for the couple’s names birthdays, home address in Reddick, and phone numbers.  She said she would try to help. 

Rep. Hayes Hinson also said she’d look into possibly doing a pop-up vaccine clinic in Reddick.

 "It’s 25 miles to Gainesville and 25 miles to Ocala, it would be perfect for a lot of people," Walsh said.

FOX 35 News will continue trying to get help and answers for this couple.  Stay tuned for a resolution.

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