Several health departments in counties across Florida have opted to use Eventbrite as a means to schedule COVID-19 vaccine appointments and distribute them quickly on a first-come, first-served basis, it has emerged.

The US state, which has had one of the highest records of coronavirus cases in the country, began giving the first round of vaccinations to those aged 65 and older in the final days of 2020. However, with no state-wide distribution system in place, local healthcare providers have been charged with creating their own systems to distribute vaccines.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced plans yesterday (Monday) to double down on vaccination efforts state-wide and has acknowledged the vaccination process is still a work in progress.

He said during a news conference: “This is a very difficult logistical operation. I’m not going to say that there have not been any problems. But I think all in all, you know, the distribution has gone probably better than what would be reasonably expected.”

Through Eventbrite, Florida’s state health department has partnered with health departments in the counties of Collier, Brevard, Manatee, Monroe, Volusia, Pasco, Sarasota, and Seminole to organise COVID-19 testing as well as priority vaccination of individuals 65 years or older. Healthcare providers such as Baycare, one of the largest healthcare systems in the state, have also used Eventbrite to organise vaccination programmes and are now offering drive-through options in the state.

To secure a vaccination using Eventbrite, residents need to bring their registration ticket, a valid form of identification, and a completed form from the Department of Health titled ‘COVID-19 Vaccine Screening and Consent Form’.

However, the system has been criticised by some as being confusing, open to scalpers and inaccessible to those without internet access.

There have also been complaints from some quarters that online platforms used by some Florida counties to arrange vaccination appointments have crashed – with DeSantis citing the spike in demand during the heated news conference.

Manatee County officials used Eventbrite as a way to distribute vaccines quickly, Christopher Tittel, communications director for the Department of Health in Manatee, told The Verge. Emergency management officials were already familiar with the platform.

“The state is instructing all counties to push the vaccine out as quickly as possible,” he said. “The faster the doses are distributed, the faster the county will get additional doses.”

As of yesterday (Monday), Florida was vaccinating three priority groups, including healthcare workers, long-term care facility staff and residents, and people over the age of 65.