PUBLIX COVID VACCINE: Palm Beach County Seniors Call System “Disaster”

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UPDATE: There’s an update to this story. Link to Publix response is at the bottom of this report.

BOCA RATON, FL ( — Senior Citizens in Palm Beach County have been calling and emailing en masse this morning after the Publix vaccine reservation system crashed. While a few lucky seniors made appointments, many more did not — unable to get the system to work.

Shot-seekers age 65 and up were told to logon at 6 a.m. for appointments, but found a Publix webpage that instructed them to sit tight. The page, according to language on the Publix website, was to auto-update. Many seniors found that confusing, not appreciating that they seemingly had a place in line once the page was open, only to lose that spot in line if they reopened or refreshed the browser. Others say the site never refreshed on its own.

We note — at the risk of creating a headache for children and grandchildren who handle tech support for the seniors in their family — that it is likely that Publix system weeds out multiple requests from the same IP address. To make it simple: logging on from multiple computers on the same WiFi in a home may actually work against you. Best bet if you want to try multiple devices: use a computer connected to your home internet and a phone connected to your cellular service.

Here’s a sampling of emails we received:

“I was online on 2 computers and a smart phone @ 6 am. I was taken to a list of counties all displaying : Appointments Available, which included Palm Beach County. I kept clicking on Palm Beach County and nothing happened. At 7:15, a message appeared saying that I was in the queque and would be let in as soon as there was room. The page kept refreshing. I refreshed it myself as well. I kept clicking on Palm Beach County to no avail. This went on until 7:15, when one by one, each FL county showed “Fully Booked.” I NEVER had the option to get into PB County Publix site and schedule an appt. Now the site advises you to go through the same inane process on January 23rd. If you can’t click on your county when supposedly appointments are available, how can you possibly book an appt.? If this had just happened on one of my computers, I would say maybe my computer had an issue — but on 2 computers and a smart at the exact same time?  Not possible. I don’t know who is getting these supposed available appts., or what the magic formula is, but something is not right here.”

“We were on the Publix site at 6am today but did not get an appointment.”

“could not get into the publix site- tried since 6am”

“I was on the site referenced above approximately 5:50 am. At 7:03 am the Martin county indicator line switched from Appointments available to completely booked. Contrary to your instructions I was never given the opportunity to indicate (the store) at all. This seems to put all parties from all counties in the same line? Never any indication of how long or how possible it might be to be admitted to the system. Can one go to the site and activate a slot on Publix’s system before the 6:00 am opening?”

“What is the real Publix email address to access the the site to register for the Covid vaccine. The one initially given did not work.” (Ed. Note: it’s not email, it’s a website).

“Was able to get in line for the Publix vaccination site. After waiting for an hour and a half in line, the site crashed and now the website says all appointments are taken.”

“Was at my computer at 5:45.  As soon as 6 am came, I got the following message You are in the queue to book a COVID-19 vaccine appointment. You will be let in automatically as soon as room is available. This page will refresh every minute. Finally, at 7:16 Palm Beach County was marked Fully Booked.   I was willing to go to Martin County as well but hey are Fully Booked as well.”

There was no immediate public statement from Publix, which did warn that a very limited supply of vaccine would be available each day. We have reached out to their communications director and will update when we receive a response.

UPDATE: 11 A.M.: Click here for the update which includes new information from Publix about additional availability of the COVID-19 shot.


Paul Saperstein


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