Vaccinations are underway in Florida, with demand greatly exceeding supply.
Gov. Ron DeSantis’s Executive Order 20-315 outlines that providers can only administer the COVID-19 vaccine to the following groups:
• Long-term care facility residents and staff,
• Persons 65 years of age and older,
• Health care personnel with direct patient contact, and
• Persons deemed to be extremely vulnerable to COVID-19 by hospital providers.
The Okeechobee County Health Department asked residents over the age of 65 to call 863-462-5800 after 8 a.m. Monday for an appointment. Some called dozens of times only to get busy signals. Other callers complained when they “pressed 1 to schedule an appointment,” the call was disconnected. Enough callers got through to fill all the available spots before noon. Those who missed out were told to call back on Tuesday; however, on Tuesday morning, a recording informed callers they had no more vaccine available yet and the message advised Okeechobee County residents to monitor the website http://okeechobee.floridahealth.gov/ for additional information. On Tuesday afternoon, the county issued a statement that the health department will resume taking appointments on Thursday, Jan. 7.
In Hendry and Glades Counties, appointments also filled up quickly this week. When more vaccine is available, vaccinations will be by appointment and will be available at the following locations:
• Hendry County Health Department, 1140 Pratt Blvd. LaBelle, 863-674-4041;
• Hendry County Health Department, 1100 S. Olympia, Clewiston, 863-983-1408;
• Glades County Health Department. 1021 Health Park Drive, Moore Haven, 863-946-0707.
Hendry and Glades County residents are advised to go online to www.preparehendry.com for the consent form that must be filled out and brought to the health department to check in for the appointment.
The heavy volume of callers seeking vaccinations caused the Florida Department of Health in Palm Beach County’s phone system to fail. The department announced Monday the appointment line is “full and closed” and that it’s transitioning to a new online appointment system. Those who are 65 or older must email firstname.lastname@example.org with their name, phone number and date of birth to set up a vaccine appointment.
The Martin County Health Department posted on its website that all COVID-19 vaccine clinics are fully booked. Residents are advised to monitor the http://martin.floridahealth.gov/ website for updates.
Collier County is using the Eventbrite website to schedule vaccination appointments. Those who sign up for an appointment will be put on a waiting list. When a spot opens up, they will receive an email. They will then have 12 hours to confirm the appointment or the spot will go to the next person in line.
For more about COVID-19 vaccinations in South Central Florida, see updates on southcentralfloridalife.com.