South Central Florida counties wait for vaccine shipments UPDATED

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COVID-19 vaccinations for health care professionals and first responders started this week in the counties around the lake. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has ordered the second phase of vaccinations will be for those age 65 and older. How long that will take is unknown.

“The vaccines that are available in the United States right now do require two doses,” Gov. Ron DeSantis explained in a Dec. 30 press conference. “Anyone who is getting the vaccine, understand and make plans for that booster shot.” He said the initial shot does provide some protection. He said demand for the vaccine exceeds supply currently. He said hospitals and county health departments will have to work through issues as they happen.

“This is the single greatest tool we have to save lives and reduce hospital admissions,” said the governor. He said they expect to get more funding from the federal government to help with the costs of the vaccination program.

“I think it is the number one most effective use of the money we have been given from the federal government,” he said.

DeSantis said he is willing to take the vaccine, but because he is under age 45, he is not in the high risk group. The governor said he will wait until the vaccine is available to everyone in his age group.

Okeechobee County has received 500 doses of the Moderna vaccine. The first round of the vaccine is for health care providers and first responders. The hospital started vaccinating staff last week. The health department will vaccinate first responders and health care providers who are not affiliated with the hospital. Mitch Smeykal of the Okeechobee Emergency Operations Center said Okeechobee Health Care Facility should start vaccinating staff and residents later this week. Vaccinations for long-term care facilities are being handled by CVS and Walgreen’s pharmacies. “We should be getting weekly shipments,” said Smeykal. Vaccinations for those over age 65 will be done by appointment through the health department. On Monday, Jan. 4, the health department will start making appointments for those over age 65 who wish to be vaccinated. Vaccinations will start on Tuesday, Jan. 5.  For information, call the Florida Department of Health in Okeechobee at 863-462-5800.

• On Dec. 29, The Department of Health in Hendry and Glades Counties received a limited quantity of vaccines and will start accepting calls to make appointments for seniors 65 years and older. Please visit www.preparehendry.com for the consent form that must be filled out and brought to the health department to check-in for the appointment. Although the distribution dates and times will change in coming weeks, the immediate plan is to offer vaccinations beginning on Monday, Jan. 4 (by appointment only) at the health departments in Hendry and Glades Counties. Vaccinations by appointment 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 Healthpark Drive, Moore Haven, 863-946-0707.

Palm Beach County has not yet announced vaccination dates.


Martin County COVID-19 vaccine clinics are fully booked. When more vaccine is available, they will take appointments for health care providers, first responders and persons over age 65. For updates, go online to martin.floridahealth.gov/programs-and-services/COVID-19VaccineInformation.html.

Collier County will offer a limited number of vaccinations starting Jan. 3. Appointments must be made on www.eventbrite.com/e/doh-collier-covid-19-vaccine-event-at-building-h-tickets-134572186031.

Florida Health COVID-19 24 hour hotline number is 866-779-6121,

For Florida Health updates via text, text FLCOVID19 to 888777.

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