ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – LaTaasha Byrd has helped seniors in Orange County get COVID-19 vaccine appointments.
The Orange County mother said she noticed some of her neighbors were having difficulty signing up to get a shot and felt compelled to step up.
“What would I do if I couldn’t get to my grandmother and she didn’t have a way to be able to get a vaccine that she wanted,” Byrd said.
The online registration maze has been a logistics nightmare and a challenge for seniors who are not tech-savvy.
“I had four screens open, four screens on the computer,” she said. “Had a telephone in one hand, and a work phone, on the other hand, I had all these screens open trying to figure out which would open first,” Byrd said.
After Byrd’s success in signing up her neighbor, she took to social media in search of more seniors who may have been equally overwhelmed.
“I even had people in my inbox saying ‘Can you help us, can I talk to you and ask you what you did?’”
At one point Byrd said she waited for two and half hours to schedule an appointment as she navigated the Publix portal.
“Initially there were a little more than 4,000 in Orange County, and it would refresh and it would be 3,500, and I would refresh it and I would look again it would be 3,300 and then it was like 1,500, and I’m like Oh my God we’re not going to get in,” Byrd said.
She said her goal is to ease frustrations for seniors who remain hopeful for a chance at the vaccine.
“The people that need the resources the most are the people who have the least access to those resources,” Byrd said.
Meanwhile, there are select pharmacies and locations that offer registration by phone. Byrd said she has at least four people who she plans to assist when the Publix portal reopens on Monday.