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Marco Island announces new system for residents to make COVID-19 vaccination appointments


Omar Rodríguez Ortiz   | Marco Eagle

The city of Marco Island announced Tuesday a new way for residents to make COVID-19 vaccination appointments.

The system will remain open for full-time and seasonal residents 65 and older and appointments will be assigned starting with Marco's oldest residents, the city announced in a news release.

City Manager Mike McNees said Wednesday the city selected the new registration system to prioritize older local residents, replacing the first come-first served model the city used last month for two vaccine clinics.

"It's a completely different delivery method that we think will put our resources toward helping people who live on the island," McNees said.

People from out of town who are 65 and older can register, but the city does not expect to receive enough vaccines for them, McNees wrote in an email Tuesday.

Once the online form is completed at http://vaccine.cityofmarcoisland.com, the city said residents will receive an email confirming that they are registered and on the waiting list. The city said registering does not guarantee a vaccination appointment.

In case you missed it: Marco Island police, fire chiefs each suspended 30 days starting Feb. 8

As of 10 a.m., Wednesday, 2,465 people had registered, Marco Island Fire-Rescue Deputy Chief David Batiato wrote in an email.

After vaccines are allocated to the city, people registered will receive an email with the appointment time, date and location, starting with the oldest Marco residents.

"Those who do not receive an appointment slot each week will remain on the registration list for future vaccine events with no further action required," the city said.

The city said the number of vaccine appointments will vary from week to week based on the vaccine allocation it receives from Collier County EMS.

The city said it encourages residents to continue to seek other vaccine appointment opportunities in addition to the Marco Island registration because it anticipates several thousand residents registering and just a few hundred vaccine allocations each week.

The next vaccine clinic is Friday starting at 9 a.m. at Mackle Park, Casey Lucius, assistant to the city manager, wrote in an email Wednesday.

How much will it cost the city?

The city signed Tuesday a $10,000 per month agreement with Merit International to provide registration services for 2,000 participants each month, the contract shows. Each additional monthly participant will cost the city $5 per participant.

The city also has to pay a one-time "emergency deployment setup and activation" fee of $9,000, the contract shows. The compensation to the company cannot exceed $49,000, and the agreement will continue until June 9.

Lucius wrote in an email Wednesday the city did not select the California-based company through a bidding process because IT contracts are exempt from competitive bidding according to the city charter.

"Our charter also specifies that emergency procurement may justify noncompetitive purchasing, and we are still in a declared state of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Time was of the essence in securing this contract so we could resume the vaccination clinics for our residents," Lucius wrote.

The vendor will assist with assigning and notifying pre-registered individuals with their scheduled appointments for vaccinations, the contract shows. It will also provide the city with spreadsheets of the people scheduled for each week and provide customer support and services via email, text and calls.

"There won't be any city employees directly involved in selecting who gets the vaccination. It will be the vendor based on the priorities we set," McNees said Wednesday.

Previously: Hundreds of Floridians get COVID-19 vaccine on Marco Island after city website crashes

More: Marco Island police, fire chiefs to be suspended after Eventbrite vaccine system probe

McNees said the city does not have the resources to complete these tasks.

"I don't have extra city employees who have the capacity to take on that work of identifying 300 or 400 people any given week, contacting them and setting up appointments," McNees said.

How did the city get here?

The city's website crashed two weeks ago as possibly thousands of web visitors attempted to make one of 200 available appointments to get the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, the city announced in a news release.

The city instructed Florida residents to visit its website at 2 p.m., Jan. 27, and to click on a banner on the top of the page to make the reservations on Eventbrite, an event management and ticketing website.

The Eventbrite account was managed by Collier County EMS.

"EMS did not pay for any services," Collier County EMS Chief Tabatha Butcher wrote in an email Wednesday.

At 2 p.m., the city also shared the Eventbrite link on its social media accounts. At approximately 2:15 p.m., the city announced on social media all 200 appointment slots were full.

In a news release sent later that day the city apologized for the inconvenience many residents experienced as they tried to register for the coveted vaccine.

On Jan. 29, the city and Collier County EMS administered 200 vaccine doses at Mackle Park.

Marco Island Police Chief Tracy L. Frazzano and Marco Island Fire-Rescue Chief Christopher Byrne started their 30-day suspensions Monday for their roles in misuse of the county's Eventbrite COVID-19 vaccine registration system, the city announced last week.

McNees conducted an investigation that found Frazzano's husband, William Frazzano, 65, made an online appointment on the Eventbrite system before the city published the Eventbrite link on the city's website and social media accounts on Jan. 20.

McNees also concluded that Byrne failed to report the breach and allowed William Frazzano to take the vaccine during the city's first vaccination clinic on Jan. 22 despite Collier County EMS alerting him of the breach approximately 10 minutes before the Eventbrite link was published at 2 p.m.

On Jan. 22, Collier County EMS and the city administered over 200 doses at Veterans' Community Park. The appointment slots were filled within three minutes of being made available online on Jan. 20, according to the city.

What to bring to the clinic

What information do you need to prove you are a Marco Island resident?

Vaccine seekers will need to show a valid driver’s license with a Marco address or two of the following:

  • A mortgage deed
  • A monthly mortgage statement
  • Residential lease or rental agreement
  • Utility bill dated within the past 60 days
  • Mail less than 60 days old from a financial institution
  • Mail less than 60 days old from a federal, state, county or Marco Island government agency 

Contact Omar at omar.rodriguezortiz@naplesnews.com, and follow him on Twitter as @Omar_fromPR. Support his work by subscribing to Naples Daily News.