When the Polk County COVID-19 vaccine hotline launched at 8 a.m. today, it was receiving more than 100 calls per second, county officials say. The result: Many thousands of callers got repeated busy signals, recorded “temporarily out of service” announcements or call-failed messages.

By 11 a.m., all vaccine appointments next week for residents age 65 and older had been filled.

“We ask for your patience and understanding as we continue to iron out the wrinkles,” said Dr. Joy Jackson, director of the Florida Department of Health in Polk County.

The hotline — (863) 298-7500 — will remain open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. “for the foreseeable future” and the 20 or so employees answering phones will continue registering seniors for future vaccine appointments, according to county officials.

For this week only, the hotline will be open Saturday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

As of Thursday afternoon, 7,180 people in Polk County had received COVID-19 vaccinations according to the latest update from the Florida Department of Health. Many of those are nursing home residents and front-line health care workers, who have been prioritized by the state of Florida for vaccines, along with residents who are 65 or older.


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Barry Friedman founded Lkldnow.com in 2015 as the culmination of a career in print and digital journalism. Since 1982, he has used the tools of reporting, editing and content curation to help people in Lakeland understand their community better.

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6 Comments

  1. This is INSANE… ever think of setting up a website for seniors to go to to schedule appointments? My wife and I spent 9 hours,and over 900 attempts on 2 seperate cell phones. Nothing is more important! Have EVERYONE on this issue,and have Florida be the leader.

  2. Because of SO MANY deaths, you have to devise a system and hire an adequate cadre of individuals who are capable of initiating an appointment and inoculation system that works efficiently. WE ARE DYING!!!!!

  3. My thoughts are like everyone else. I spent 9 hours with my wife and I doing over 2000 calls and still no luck. Out of all the calls we got through and it froze up and disconnected itself. I am a 68 year disabled veteran, who is also fighting cancer. I would love to have some extra security against this COVID-19.

  4. T H I S P E O P L E H A D 1 Y E A R T I M E T O G E T R E A D Y F O R T H I S.
    TYPICAL BUEROCRATS, THEY EITHER DONT CARE, OR ARE NOT QUALIFIED FOR THE JOB. I UNDERSTAND, ABOUT LIMITED SUPPLY. BUT TO SET UP A PHONELINE FOR A WAITLIST, IS NOT THAT HARD. AIRLINES CAN DO IT, DMV CAN DO IT, HOTELS AMAZON, AND MOST BUSINESSES CAN DO IT. OUR ONLY SOLUTION, VOTE ALL ELECTED OFFICIALS O U T NEXT ELECTION.

  5. It is infuriating. How is it that I have spent all day for 4 days with NO success. Between busy signals, announcements that “all circuits are busy,” and “due to network difficulties your call cannot be completed at this time, try your call later,” this is proof positive that our local government is incapable of managing such a responsibility. Let’s remember this next election!!

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