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Fort Lauderdale’s Holiday Park will require appointments for vaccines again

Many seniors turned away Friday after crowds showed up early

The Holiday Park site had opened to people who didn't have appointments due to issues with Broward County's website to make those reservations, but that changed Friday night.

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – The opportunity to get a coronavirus vaccine without an appointment at Holiday Park in Fort Lauderdale was short-lived. The site will be requiring reservations again starting Saturday.

“Holiday Park will be serving people 65 years or older with a scheduled appointment, verified email confirmation, or text message confirmation,” the department of health in Broward County said in a statement Friday evening. “All others coming to Holiday Park for vaccination will not be served.”

Long lines of cars filled Holiday Park on Friday, where seniors 65 and older were willing to wait hours for a COVID-19 vaccine, but not everybody was getting a shot.

On Thursday we reported that Holiday Park was allowing people to get vaccinated even without an appointment, a decision made after the Broward health department’s website for those reservations crashed.

William Kedersha, 76, drove from West Palm Beach twice and was there at 6 a.m. Friday.

But he had no luck.

“A police car went by about an hour later saying, ‘You’re wasting your time’ but on a loudspeaker,” he said. “No explanation no discussion. ...

“So between the two days we wasted about 4 or 5 hours each day and it’s totally disorganized. There is no sense to what’s going on. To me, it’s a complete disaster.”

Kedersha says he’s “thoroughly disgusted and I’m not driving that far anymore without an appointment.”

And here’s another problem: We learned Friday that some people do have appointments for Holiday Park and they were worried what would happen to them.

Laura Restrepo was lucky enough to secure an appointment for another vaccine site. Days later, she was told by text message that her appointment had been moved to Holiday Park.

“Last night a friend of mine happened to see your report on the local 10 app,” said Restrepo, of Pembroke Pines.

“What about us? What happens?”

She feared when she would get here for her appointment Saturday, those who don’t have appointments would take her spot.

Confusion and frustration came for those turned away Friday.

“We were here at 4 this morning in line,” 67-year-old Mary Messa said.

Nancy Aaraj, 77, added: “We’re exhausted.”

They came from Delray Beach and Boca Raton and were outraged not to get a shot.

“They said no appointment necessary,” Aaraj said. “They should let us in, not get here and say, ‘Oh, do you have an appointment? You can’t go in.’ This is ridiculous.”

When appointments are available, vaccines can be made at browardcovidvaccine.com. The county has acknowledged ongoing issues with that website and is working to improve its system, but recommends residents check back at that site.

ALSO SEE: Where are the Broward County COVID-19 vaccination sites?

About the Authors:

In January 2017, Hatzel Vela became the first local television journalist in the country to move to Cuba and cover the island from the inside. During his time living and working in Cuba, he covered some of the most significant stories in a post-Fidel Castro Cuba. 

David Selig is the Digital Executive Producer at WPLG, overseeing Local10.com.