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Another batch of Publix vaccine appointments filled. How to increase your odds of getting a shot

Vaccines in Florida currently only available to residents 65+ and front-line health care workers

COVID-19 vaccines coming to Publix in Palm Beach County and Florida Keys
COVID-19 vaccines coming to Publix in Palm Beach County and Florida Keys

Another round of appointments to the COVID-19 vaccine at Publix pharmacies booked up in just over 90 minutes Wednesday morning. Each time the grocery chain has offered reservations over the last three weeks, all appointments were taken quickly, leaving thousands after hoping to snag an appointment frustrated.

The next window for eligible people to book appointments online opens at 7 a.m. Friday.

The number of appointments available Wednesday were not yet released, but a Publix spokeswoman said they booked 36,450 appointments in about 90 minutes during the last sign-up window on Friday. About 300,000 people logged into the system that morning trying to snag one of those appointments.

Publix added stores in Nassau County and as well at two counties in the Tampa Bay area as vaccine sites, bringing the total to 325 stores in 23 counties. St. Johns and Flagler counties are the others in Northeast Florida included in the Publix distribution network.

People who have successfully made a vaccine appointments with Publix have some ideas that might increase your odds.

When you got to Publix.com/covid-vaccine/florida during the registration window, you’ll see a message: “Our vaccine scheduling site is currently live, but full of other customers.” It continues, saying, “Please be patient and do lot leave this page.”

Do you follow that advice and resist the urge to refresh the page?

Lynn Lubell of Boca Raton, who has had success making appointments for about 10 friends and family members, told The South Florida Sun-Sentinel she has had success by refreshing the page.

“If you are in a ‘waiting room situation,’ refresh your browser frequently to see if an opportunity to make an appointment opens up,” Lubell told the newspaper.

Her other strategy is to keep multiple browsers and windows open.

“I’ve had seven browser windows open at once. I’ll let two stay as they are and keep refreshing the others, just to see what will work,” Lubell told the Sun-Sentinel.

While Publix doesn’t recommend using multiple browsers as it just increases the demand on its servers, you could have a session open on your phone, a tablet, or even a second computer if you have access to one. If you don’t have multiple devices, perhaps enlist a friend or relative -- even someone in another state -- to go online and increase your chances of getting an appointment.

If you are lucky enough to get past the waiting room, the clock is ticking on entering all the required information before all the appointments are gone. Publix recommends having the following information ready before attempting to sign up: date of birth, physical address, email address, Medicare ID number (if applicable), state and county, and emergency contact name and number. In addition, please be ready to answer questions about your allergies and long-term health history.

Once you answer all those questions, you’ll be asked to pick a store. If you’re willing to travel to another Publix further away, even in another county, your odds of finding an open time slot increase. For instance, Publix stores with pharmacies in Volusia and Marion counties are likely within an hour or two-hour drive that you might be willing to make. (Full list of stores offering vaccines)

“It’s not perfect, but we’re trying to get there,” Maria Brous, director of communications for Publix told WPTV. “We don’t stop trying and we continue to make those enhancements.”

Currently in Jacksonville, the only place the public can get a first COVID-19 vaccine is at Regency Square. Call 1-866-200-3762 for an appointment.

As of Tuesday, the Florida Department of Health reported 1,747,761 people in Florida have received a dose of the vaccine. Of those, 83,066 were given in Duval County, 32,938 in St. Johns County,10,792 in Flagler County and 9,735 in Nassau County.


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