Holiday Park vaccine site changes to ‘appointment only,’ but not everyone knew

Some seniors waited in line for hours only to be turned away

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Lines of cars were stretched out onto Federal Highway for miles on Saturday as people waited to get a COVID-19 vaccination at the state-run distribution site at Holiday Park. The site closed Saturday at 4 p.m., but people got an early start.

Sheila Prager was waiting in line nearly 3 hours before the site opened at 8 a.m.

“I was out on the road in line at twenty after five,” Sheila Prager said.

Prager was surprised by the long line Saturday morning after returning since she had tried to get a vaccination Friday, but with no luck.

“I came by at 3:15 and they said, ‘No more. We are closed. Come back tomorrow. We are out of vaccine, so I’m here,” Prager said.

On Saturday, Holiday Park changed to “appointment only” after being one of the few sites where people over the age of 65 could show up without one.

“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.”

We did hear an official Saturday morning tell someone inside of the park that did not have an appointment that they would still get a vaccine. We also spoke to people in the long line who didn’t have appointments that were willing to take the risk of being able to a shot without an appointment.

William Kedersha tried for two days to get a vaccine at Holiday Park and left without one.

“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.”

And there were other problems during the week at the site.

Laura Restrepo of Pembroke Pines had an appointment for another site on Jan. 3. Days after she made the appointment, she was notified by text that her appointment had been moved to Holiday Park.

Then she saw on Local 10 News that there were no appointments needed to get a vaccine at the site, a decision that was made after the Broward Health Department’s website crashed.

“Last night, a friend of mine happened to see your report on the Local 10 app,” Restrepo said. “What about us? What happens?”

Restrepo said she fears when she tries again that those who didn’t have appointments would have taken her spot.

A group from Delray Beach and Boca Raton had arrived at the site on Saturday, only to be turned away. They are outraged.

67-year-old Mary Messa said she and her friends were here early. “We were here at 4 this morning on line,” Messa said.

“They said no appointment necessary. They should let us in. Not get here and say ‘Oh, do you have an appointment? You can’t go in this is ridiculous. We’re exhausted. Exhausted,” said 77-year-old Nancy Aaraj.

The site at Holiday Park is open Saturday for appointments only. It will be closed on Sunday.

Information from the Broward.org Coronavirus Vaccination Information page.

Holiday Park info: This vaccination site is open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. Vaccines are available only for individuals 65+, with confirmed appointments only. Appointments are required at all vaccination sites and can be made online at BrowardCovidVaccine.com. If the appointment scheduler website is not available, check back frequently. The website will not be available if there are no open appointment times available.


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