Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during a news conference in December 2020 at Tampa General Hospital in Tampa, Florida. AP Photo/Chris O’Meara
Several counties in Florida have opted to use Eventbrite, a digital event management and ticketing website, to allow residents to register to receive their vaccination for COVID-19.
State leaders in Florida have left distribution plans up to local health departments, prompting counties like Broward to use the digital platform to allow residents to sign up.
Social media lit up with complaints and concerns with the system, particularly for the elderly, who may not be technologically savvy.
Florida has bucked recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and has begun offering vaccines to state residents over the age of 65.
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Some Florida residents are being asked to use the online ticketing and event management platform Eventbrite to register for an appointment to receive COVID-19 vaccinations, and it’s created problems for some.
Numerous users say they have been frustrated with the online system, particularly on behalf of the states’ elderly residents, who are most at risk of severe cases of COVID-19.
“My 77 year old father lives in one of the Florida counties where vaccines are first-come, first-serve through Eventbrite. He’s no technophile, so I’m out here like a dad trying to get his kid a ticket to a One Direction concert except, you know, life or death stuff,” one person tweeted Monday.
“There’s SO MUCH that is wrong with this. Including the fact that some of the most at risk people don’t have access to computers or the internet,” another person said in a tweet, noting that he is also waiting to register his parents.
Jim Rosica, a journalist with the Tallahassee Democrat, said also on Twitter that he and his colleague, reporter C.D. Davidson-Hiers, had fielded dozens of requests by phone and by text message from readers asking for assistance in using the Eventbrite system.
Davidson-Hiers on Twitter urged her followers to be patient as she worked to respond to texts and voicemails.
“Just gonna put this out there: If people are calling us to get a vaccine appointment, there’s something wrong,” Rosica said in a tweet.
A Brevard County spokesperson said the county switched to Eventbrite following issues with its phone system
Jesi Ray, a communications specialist for Brevard County, told The Verge the county had initially planned to allow residents to register by phone but callers had trouble getting through, prompting the adoption of Eventbrite, according to the report.
“This is the only option we have right now, this is the quickest, easiest, and most efficient way that we can think of to help the department of health solve this issue right now,” said Ray, according to The Verge.
The Florida Department of Health did not return Insider’s request for comment on Tuesday. Ray told The Verge the system had been largely successful in Brevard, and officials planned to use it and, hopefully, the phone system to register more people for appointments when more vaccines become available.
Officials in Pasco and Pinellas Counties in Florida warned residents about a scam in which someone created a fake vaccination event that charged registrants a fee, as WFLA reported. There is no fee associated with vaccination registration, officials stressed.
Eventbrite did not immediately return Insider’s request for comment Tuesday about such scams and whether it supported Florida’s use of its platform.
The US government has largely left its distribution plans for the COVID-19 vaccine up to state governments, which some experts have blamed for the slow and lengthy rollout. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were given emergency authorization by the US Food and Drug Administration late last year.
Florida, however, has bucked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, which recommend essential workers be given priority access, and has begun offering vaccines to state residents over the age of 65.
In a viral and heated moment at a Monday press conference, Gov. Ron DeSantis sparred with a CNN reporter who asked about senior citizens standing in long lines at healthcare facilities in the state that had offered the vaccine to eligible people on a first-come, first-served basis. But DeSantis defended his decision to leave distribution up to local restrictions and healthcare facilities.
“The state is not dictating the hospitals,” DeSantis told the CNN reporter. “That would be a total disaster.”
“These guys are much more competent to be able to deliver healthcare services than a state government could ever be.
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