States are taking charge of COVID-19 vaccine distribution rather than the federal government, but some don’t have a statewide plan and are leaving it up to counties. To help manage appointment scheduling, several counties in Florida have turned to ticketing services like Eventbrite, as The Verge reports. For the time being, those in Brevard County who are currently eligible for a vaccine (health care workers, long-term care facility residents and those over 65) have to use Eventbrite to schedule an appointment. The county’s health department switched to an online approach after residents overwhelmed a hotline. There are some concerns with such systems, however. Residents who are used to booking tickets for shows through online platforms may find it easier to lock in a vaccination time than those who aren’t. Within a day of Brevard County’s Eventbrite system getting off the ground, residents had snapped up all of the appointments for the first vaccine shipment. Residents who don’t have internet access may find it difficult to claim a vaccination slot, perhaps leaving vulnerable individuals at risk, while reports have emerged of fake Eventbrite accounts charging for appointments. It’s also possible that a gray market for vaccine slots will bubble up if bots are able to lock in appointments faster than people can, but there’s no evidence of that happening yet, according to StateScoop. Although health authorities have had months to prepare for distribution, officials told The Verge that opting for an online ticketing system was the easiest way to ramp up vaccination programs quickly. One in Brevard County said the approach had worked well so far and that residents, on the whole, found the approach to be easy. The health department plans to keep using Eventbrite for its next shipment, and it hopes to have its hotline back in operation by then.
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