An Exercise in Futility

As of 6:49am on Wednesday, January 20, 2021, I had been “in the queue” to reserve a vaccination for my 86-year-old mother on the Publix Coronavirus website for nearly one hour.

At 7:33am, the screen went blank and the ominous message “An error (500 Internal Server Error) has occurred in response to this request,” which ended my fruitless quest to protect my mom from a potential death sentence – by 7:49am, the site returned with a message that all available appointments had been claimed. . .     


Two-hours later I jumped on the opportunity to try my luck on Volusia County’s online booking platform for a chance at getting her an appointment at any of the three events scheduled at the Fairgrounds later this week.

With family and friends all trying desperately to give one old lady a fighting chance – my wife was disconnected from the Volusia County Citizen Information Center line – while a friend and I waited in vain to register for one remaining appointment.

Ultimately, after waiting over 30-minutes – the system kicked both of us out with a message that all appointments for the three-day DeLand event were full. . .in minutes

Oh, the oxymoronic Volusia County “Citizen Information Center?”  Still a monotonous busy signal. . . 

But it is comforting to know that Volusia County Emergency Management “empathizes with my concerns.”

Stressful.  Frustrating.  And, ultimately, futile. 

And the grim scavenger hunt continues. . . 

It’s all a giant crapshoot – a hopeless exercise – an over-the-horizon logjam of the elderly, sick, and infirm, vulnerable people of all races, colors, and creeds who have been stepped over by cowardly assholes on all sides of the political spectrum, craven politicians and well-connected Big Shots who have waltzed to the front of the line, abusing the privilege of their public positions to receive precious doses in some cockamamie scheme to “encourage others” to get in this endless queue of the unfortunate masses with no political clout.

And all anyone in a position to influence these things can do is feel sorry for themselves and complain about the ineptitude of the next level of bureaucracy above them. . .  

Sickening.  Literally.     

You see, my mom – she doesn’t know anyone important. 

She has no political influence or preferred status (beyond being in the very category of people the CDC placed first on the eligibility list as confirmed by Governor Ron DeSantis’ toothless executive order) and she does not want any special favors – or some bureaucrat’s goddamned empathy. . .   

Like so many other elderly Floridians, my mom simply wants a legitimate opportunity to obtain an appointment – a more permanent reservation – perhaps one that places her on a larger list beyond fighting desperately for a one-hour timeslot on registration systems that continue to crash like clockwork.  

And she wants a legitimate distribution system that stops “medical tourism” – where tourists (even some from outside the United States) descend upon our state solely for the purpose of receiving a vaccination – a fair and legitimate process where players like AdventHealth stop using the federally supplied vaccine as a cheap marketing strategy for their “Medical Group,” and tin-pot politicians and incompetent bureaucrats stop patting themselves on the back for the “great job” they’re doing, etc., etc.

She wants a chance at life beyond lockdown.

What is happening in the State of Florida is a disgusting example of government ineptitude on parade.

To add insult, The Daytona Beach News-Journal glommed onto an oh-so-pompous op/ed from the Palm Beach Post’s painfully obvious column entitled, “Florida is botching the vaccine rollout.”  

No shit.  Is there anyone from Pensacola to the Planet Pluto who doesn’t know that?   

So why in the hell don’t those of you who buy printer’s ink by the barrel do something about it? 

Complaining and pointing fingers is my job. Dammit. 

I don’t need to pay Gannett, or some other massive media conglomerate, to commiserate with me – I need them to get off their ass, stop fanning the political flames, and launch an independent investigation into the who, what, when, and why of how this rollout of the vaccine left the tracks. 

Ferreting out threats to our collective safety is the fundamental job of an investigative journalist (if Gannett still has any on their ever-shrinking payroll) and, in my view, protecting the public welfare is the essential role of the media in a free and open society.

This sham cannot continue. 

We can all agree, the politicization of the most important mass vaccination in the history of mankind is an abomination – something that can no longer be left to those jacklegs at the Florida Department of Health – an agency that should be immediately disbanded as a clear and continuing threat to the public’s health and welfare. 

Volusia County – you suck at your job of protecting vulnerable residents.

State of Florida – you’re worse. 

Now, get your heads out of your ass and develop a system that allows permanent advanced registrations and stop this frustrating scramble for first come/first served luck-of-the-draw “appointments.”

Do it now.  

If I sound pissed-off – that’s because I am.

And you should be too.   

21 thoughts on “An Exercise in Futility

  1. We’re not as bad as California or New York, our economy isn’t locked down.
    Who would you prefer to be Governor?

    We’re not getting our fair allotment of vaccine.

    You’re going to have chaos when you have 135,000 seniors needing a lifesaving vaccine.

    Marion County, a little over 60% of population of Volusia has received more vaccine.

    Don’t worry Biden’s going to fix it….my ass!


      1. I just saw the largest vaccine plant in India has just burnt down. They make the madrema vaccine which is worse than the Pfizer vaccine. Unfortunately for your Mom she’ll just have to wait longer than expected. Not to be mean or disrespectful I personally don’t understand why people would take it knowing that it doesn’t keep you from getting it. It only lessens your symptoms once you get it. Plus you have to be tested to know if you have it. Most vaccines are made so you don’t get sick not after the fact . Good luck !


      2. Scott Times of India said the covid part of the plant was untouched.You have to be a clown to think the vaccine only lightens the symptoms.Why do they tell you the percentage of all vaccines and its resistance to the drug.Scott show me where you read it does not stop you from getting it.So far you have been wrong and you posted the bs before about not stopping you from getting the virus.This is not Tamaflu


      3. and health both basically say the same thing. Moderna and Pfizer vacinnes doesnot prevent coronavirus. The two are supposed to either stop or lessen the disease but, may not the virus from getting into your body. Facts from


  2. Your blog echoed exactly what happened to me this morning. Un-f-believable. There is no earthly reason, given the time we went online, that we couldn’t get a reservation. At this juncture, do we futilely go back online at 6am Friday? I doubt if I will fall into that black hole. Why bother? I wish you luck getting Miss Billie a slot. She needs to be first in line!


  3. patience is needed, total 350 million americans, of which may be 265 million will eventually be immunized.
    not worth having a heart attack over. set the example…


  4. Last month our friend, Pat Northey, posted an urgent message on Facebook that Orange County was taking appointment requests for vax at the Convention Center. My wife and I were both able to register without difficulty. We received both an email and text message with a scancode for the appointment. The day before our shot (we were both able to register for the same timeslot), we received both email and text reminders. On January 15 we arrived at 12:30 for our 1:00 appointment, and there were NO cars in front of us. Even though we were early we were directed to immediately proceed into one of 3 (empty) lines, where we were processed and out the door in under 10 minutes with bandaids on our arms. We were directed into a parking area and told to wait for 15 – 30 minutes for possible side effects and to sound the horn if we needed assistance. 15 minutes later we exited through 1 of 2 (empty) lanes, and scanned out by very pleasant staff. It is indefensible that we had to rely on a Facebook post to accomplish this. I am so sorry Volusia County is such a clusterfuck.


    1. It’s not just a Volusia county problem, it’s state wide with a few exceptions, if you are lucky enough to live in the Villages or have ties to Adventist Health you are privileged special I guess. It’s all political. We had months to plan for the vaccine roll out but time was wasted debating the merits of mask wearing, blaming China and fighting about the election. China by the way, shut everything done, now their economy is back better than before Covid hit them. Our governor advertising for people to vaccine vacation is a crying shame.


  5. Mark, it pervades every level of government. I am not qualified to get a vaccination at the VA with 34 years service – because I am retired, have the better benefits of Medicare and have never considered taking a single appointment from less fortunate brothers and sisters with no other options. So I am not in their system, but facing the same systemic problem. Not about to enroll because healthy veterans who never had the need to enroll have that need now.
    Meanwhile, my wife could not even attempt the local nightmare, because it was obvious from the initial announcement that no consideration was given to the disabled in the 65+ population.
    Unfortunately, accidents happen to anybody. But among the elderly a simple slip can break bones.
    My wife fell Saturday. We are being “patient” as healthy people suggest. But our “patience” is keeping her safely bedridden until Friday, when she can see a doctor and get x/ rays without the dangers of waiting rooms supervised only by nonmedical people protecting themselves while disregarding precautions not taken outside their glass windows. Check the stats – highly educated drs and RNs are choosing to get vaccinated in large numbers. But backline hospital workers (high school graduates with certificates) are as afraid as other undereducated people of a vaccination they can’t understand. I guess the vaccinations intended for them are the ones that ended up in the arms of privileged public officials, big donors, and their families and friends.


  6. I’m 67 with congestive heart failure, trouble walking, PTSD. Frankly, I’ve given up on this shit show. It’s too anxiety producing and frustrating. I’m just going to continue wearing a mask, or 3, social distance, wash my hands Ann’s wait until pharmacies roll out the vaccines. I’ll wait.


  7. First cluster fuck was Derrick Henrys 2 day camp out.Florida gives non residents and non citizens opportunity to hang and do what we did Sunday and called all the Publix in Ormond area at 4PM to see if they had any no shows and Holly Hill took both of us in a half hour.Went on the registration today for the heck of it for the 3400 shots at 8:59 and 58 seconds and got dumped again as all the snowbirds and RV people are trying.Heard from Flagler they are going to open up very soon in Bunnell with more but Everyone we know is working Publix..Publix said registration on their website will reopen Saturday .Publix has a website for all counties in Florida,Georgia and South Carolina by county then pick the county and they list stores by the city.Pat Rice yesterday after 5 PM online news you posted about the 9AM registration in Volusia today.Unfortunately the trash rag is at least a day behind local cable news.Daytona News Journal needs to be put to rest as it is useless shit with Palm Beach Post trash in it and USA Today Gannett trash .Dont know what the future is but you have bike week,Rolex and the 500 bringing non residents to Daytona and DeSantis needs to stop the crap on non resident bullshit. Town of Palm beach this week got 7000 shots and only 8800 of all ages residents.Money talks.My 94 year old aunt needed someone to register her in Brooklyn and Cuomo only has one week of shots left.This is a giant cluster f.Politics not involved here.County registration is useless shit.


  8. Mark todays Covid notice from Publix reads as follows Starting Friday Jan 22 after 6AM EST customers can access appointment availability beginning Saturday Jan 23.


  9. Mark, I am sorry for your mom. This is a screwed up mess, and the amateurs running the show in Tallahassee and locally should be pilloried.

    What is frustrating is that there is no true vetting and prioritizing. The medical tourists are finally being called out, but the lack of a process for appointments is a joke. There should be a prioritized list and people who fit the criteria -not those in positions of power-should get first crack. The loading of the Titanic lifeboats was more orderly than this!


  10. Your blog about the SNAFU of getting a Vaccine is spot on Mark, I am 81 and my wife is 77 and we have tried to get registered to get the vaccine at Publix, Volusia county and Advent health to no avail. The second registration opens, Both of use are on the computer sites, me on my desktop and my wife on her laptop, and she constantly dials on her cell phone and I constantly dial on my cell phone AND also on our house landline phone. So with two computers and three phones we are still unable to get vaccinated. I do not know how anybody could do more than we have, but evidently thousands of people know something we don’t as all appointments fill up within minutes. It is truly sad that the county and the state are so inept. We deserve better, but obviously we are helpless.


  11. I was able to get an appointment with Publix after 46 minute updates. I know no one who could help but was blessed to hang in and get an appointment. Keep trying. Opens again Saturday am.


  12. Flagler is a shit show, too. The phone number given for the Fairgrounds is disconnected. The website shows Server Error. I signed up for a text from Flagler to alert us when vaccines were available. By the time I tried the disconnected phone number, the disconnected website and then called Advent directly, appointments were gone. Actually the operator at Advent didn’t even know any were available. So were they really gone, who the hell knows. Our neighbor is of major concern to us as she does not have computer access and a landline. Bless her as she, like myself, is a breast cancer survivor. I have MS for 20 years, so between my age and two comorbidities, I’m at high risk as are so many others. Yet the Channel 6 did a news clip of Brevard folks driving up to Volusia County for the vaccine. Gov. DeSantis has decided that snowbirds are eligible, too. Now that really gripes my behind. These folks don’t pay taxes in our County (for the most part).


  13. Fox 35 just announced you must have proof like drivers license or utility bill that you are a Florida resident to get a shot from a state run Florida site that includes Deland .Might see some cancellations and availabilities.Vacation is over


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