‘We have been skipped’: Health care workers voice frustration over governor’s decision to vaccinate seniors ahead of health care workers

Home care nurse Heather Hopkins had hoped to be sitting in a chair getting her vaccination by now.

She got a message from Seminole County that she was eligible, and said she secured a vaccine appointment over the phone.

The next day, she was told Moderna doses are for seniors only per the state’s decision.

READ: These Central Florida counties are distributing COVID-19 vaccinations for residents 65 and older; here’s how to make an appointment

“We have been skipped and we have continued to work on the frontlines,” she said.

If they gave the vaccine to her and other health care workers as planned, Hopkins said, “then they jeopardized future shipments of the COVID (vaccine) from the Governor’s office.”

Hopkins reached out to Channel 9 so more people would realize many frontline health care workers don’t know when they’ll get a shot.

READ: COVID-19 vaccine to be distributed at Orange County Convention Center, starting tomorrow

“We can’t sit at home and protect ourselves unlike some of the folks in the 65 and up (age range),” Hopkins said.

Her colleague Kathy Reger shared in her frustration.

“I’ve had a few scares and made it through,” she said.

READ: Appointments book up fast as COVID-19 vaccination site debuts at Oviedo Mall

She’s 70, but believes the job is important, and that other nurses need the vaccine so they can keep helping patients.

Seminole County’s emergency manager said Friday that health care workers should reach out to the hospitals with the vaccine.

“When I contacted all the hospitals in my area. They were reserved for their own employees,” Hopkins said.

READ: Childhood obesity on the rise during pandemic, doctors say

If Reger could talk to the governor, she’d tell him to “listen to the experts.”

“We should be rolling out vaccines and not trying to put on a show for your re-election,” she said.

Cierra Putman

Cierra Putman, WFTV.com

Cierra Putman flew south to join Eyewitness News in July 2016.

Adam Poulisse, WFTV.com

Adam Poulisse joined WFTV in November 2019.