JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Less than a day after Walmart announced it would begin offering COVID-19 vaccines Friday at its pharmacies at 119 of its Florida stores, including 18 in Jacksonville, its online registration site went down for technical reasons.
“The Walmart scheduling system is currently experiencing technical difficulties following a surge of appointments. Our team is currently working to resolve the matter to have the scheduler back online as soon as possible,” a Walmart spokesman told News4Jax just after 9 a.m. Wednesday.
The spokesperson said some Friday appointments were made before the registration site went down.
Dana Pabom, with Walmart, said that once they get back online, they hope appointments will still be available and hope to be able to help those who don’t have internet access.
“For people that cannot book online and they don’t have any opportunity with the system, we will be more than happy to assist them. We have a process, which is more of a manual process, where we are going to be able to do some manual scheduling and be able to contact them to book appointments through a particular store,” Pabom said.
On Wednesday, the page showed no stores with availability, which is what the page showed before registrations opened late Tuesday.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis joined by Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry at the Walmart Supercenter on Atlantic Boulevard at noon Tuesday to announce the vaccine rollout for senior seniors and health care workers at the supercenters in Florida.
Walmart stores in Baker County, Bradford County, Clay County and Columbia County will also offer the vaccine, according to the governor.
See all of the Florida Walmart and Sam’s Club locations offering vaccines in the document below:
Walmart will get about 25,000 doses of the vaccine for the first phase of the rollout through the federal pharmacy program, DeSantis said.
Visit Walmart.com/CovidVaccine for more information.
“I think that they have a great plan, they’re spreading it pretty far and wide. And then as those doses increase from the federal government, they’ll be able to do more shots at each store without much of a problem,” DeSantis said.
DeSantis said Monday the state expects to get 18,000 more doses of the vaccine added to its weekly shipment from the federal government, bringing its anticipated shipment to 325,000 doses.
Through a partnership with the state, pharmacies in Publix supermarkets have been offering vaccines for weeks, though not in Duval County. It’s a plan that has come under fire.
DeSantis said expanding vaccination efforts to Walmart stores across the state will help address some of the inequality issues raised by critics.
The federal pharmacy program will also get more doses to Publix stores across the state. Right now, there are 325 Publix pharmacies in 23 counties offering the vaccine.
“Starting by the end of this week, [vaccines] will be in almost 600 Publix stores statewide across 41 counties and we already have them in Nassau and St Johns. There’ll be six Publix in Clay County, and they’ll also be one in Columbia County,” DeSantis said.
About 42% of all seniors in Duval County have received at least one vaccine shot, DeSantis said, which is better than the state average.
“We’re going to be able to add to those numbers and have a majority of seniors in no time,” he added.
The additional options for people to get vaccinated will be in close reach for those living in underserved Jacksonville communities. Dr. Sunil Joshi is the president of the Duval County Medical Society Foundation.
“There tends to be more Walmarts and Sam’s Clubs in underserved areas so that’s huge,” he said. “What we hear all the time is that, yes, I do want to get the vaccine, but I’m having a hard time getting an appointment or having trouble getting to the location.”
Southeastern Grocers also said Tuesday it will begin administering coronavirus vaccines at 40 Winn-Dixie stores, including four in Duval County. It also includes the Harveys Supermarket on Market Street.
“I’m happy that they’re spreading it out, and I wish they would continue to put it in some of the lower-income communities,” said Calvin Jones, who shops at Harveys.