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  • may receive free testing for COVID-19

Cancer Patient, 74, Struggles to Get COVID-19 Vaccine

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — The expansion of vaccine distribution at the Orange County Convention Center is helping seniors struggling to finally get the vaccine.

What You Need To Know
 Harry Costolloe, 74, was scheduled to get a COVID-19 vaccine on January 14

 His doctor told him to hold off, though, because he was scheduled to have an operation on his lung on January 26

He is scheduled to finally get his first dose of the vaccine on Tuesday

Spectrum News 13’s Emily Braun spoke to a 74-year-old man who felt like he slipped through the cracks and is now scheduled to get the vaccine Tuesday.        

January 14 was the day Harry Costelloe was supposed to get his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and his girlfriend, Gwen Gayhart, couldn’t believe their luck.

“I was so relieved because it meant it wasn’t going to have to be constantly worrying about him,” said Gayhart.

Costelloe was diagnosed with lung cancer and had a procedure scheduled for January 26 to remove a portion of his lung.

Then, Costelloe’s doctor urged him to reschedule the vaccine appointment, saying he should avoid getting the COVID-19 vaccine within two weeks of procedure, before and after.

“That was like, ‘Ughhh, oh no,'” Gayhart said. “He was having surgery. You would have thought that he would’ve been someone who should’ve been vaccinated as soon as possible.”

Just when Costelloe and Gayhart were breathing a little easier, they were back to holding their breath, trying unsuccessfully to get a new appointment time for this month.

“All my siblings living in England texted me saying, ‘I’m getting my vaccine today and I’m getting my next shot in two weeks,'” Costelloe said.

“His daughter sent us a picture of herself with her vaccination card that she’d been vaccinated.” said Gayhart. “She lives in Illinois, and she’s not over 65.”

Costelloe’s age is just one factor that puts him at high risk, but he says it felt like the only factor that mattered when he tried to register.

“It (the state’s vaccine registration website) doesn’t ask you what your underlying conditions are,” he said.

Costelloe finally got his appointment Monday through the Orange County Convention Center, but Gayhart feels it was just plain luck.

The Florida Department of Health in Orange County said as of Monday, about 46% of seniors in the county have been vaccinated.

That does not include people like Costelloe, who got the vaccine from Orange County but lives in a different county.​​


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We need help to find a way to prevent COVID-19

COVID-19 studies are enrolling now.

Those who qualify:*

  • may receive the investigational vaccine or placebo at no cost
  • may receive compensation for time and travel
  • may receive free testing for COVID-19