OKEECHOBEE – On Monday, April 5, the State of Florida opens up COVID-19 vaccinations to anyone over the age of 18 who has a Florida Driver’s License or proof of Florida residency. On Tuesday, April 6, vaccinations will be available at the Okeechobee Agri-Civic Center. Those seeking a vaccination should use the 4601 State Road 710 East entrance.
Okeechobee County is using the state registration system. Residents can sign up online at https://myvaccine.fl.gov or call 866-201-1060.
When Okeechobee County first started using the state appointment system, it worked well, scheduling appointments for all of the available doses each week. However, for the March 23 and March 30 vaccination pods at the Okeechobee Agri-Civic Center, the state appointment system scheduled less than 100 of the 500 available appointments. With the help of the Lake Okeechobee News Facebook page (which has more than 21,000 followers), the SouthCentralFloridaLife.com website, the county’s social media sites, the local radio station and word of mouth, they were able to get enough people to the site and shots in the arms to use up the available doses so none of the precious vaccine was wasted.
What will happen at the next vaccination pod on Tuesday, April 6? There’s a good chance vaccine will again be available for some without appointments, according to Mitch Smeykal of the Okeechobee Emergency Operations Center.
“We have to wait to get the appointment list,” he explained. Everyone who has an appointment will be vaccinated at their scheduled time. If, as happened with the last two vaccination pods, the state does not make appointments for all of the 500 first doses of the Moderna vaccine available, they will open it up to anyone over the age of 18.
Smeykal said as soon as they know how many appointments have been made, they will put the word out as they did the past two weeks. The vaccination pod is scheduled to be open from 8 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. or until all of the available doses are used. Smeykal said if appointments are not made for all of the available vaccine, they will probably open it to those without appointments around 9 a.m.
Community Services Director Denise Whitehead explained the vaccination pod can give 500 shots in three hours if all 500 people have appointments and arrive at their scheduled times. Without appointments, the vaccinations take longer. Some periods are very slow, with gaps between people arriving for vaccinations. Other periods, such as the lunch hour, there is a line. For the March 23 and March 30 vaccination pods, it took about seven hours to give all of the shots.
According to state officials, one reason so few appointments have been made is that many people do not answer their phones. About 80% of those called for an appointment do not answer, according to state officials. They may mistake it for a “spam” call.
Note: The April 6 vaccination pod is for first doses of the Moderna vaccine only. Those who have already had their first dose will be called by the Okeechobee County Health Department to schedule the second dose.
The Department of Health asks anyone planning to arrive for vaccinations to have the consent
form printed and completed before coming to the Agri-Civic Center. Consent forms can be
found at online at http://okeechobee.floridahealth.gov/ or at the Okeechobee Public Library. If your vaccination is scheduled through the state waitlist, you will also receive a link for your consent form.
Vaccinations will be available to Florida residents over the age of 18. If you have a Florida Driver’s License or a Florida ID card issued by the Driver’s License Office, that’s all you need to prove residency.
If you do not have a Florida Driver’s License or Florida ID, you can proof residency by bringing two of the following documents:
• A deed, mortgage, monthly mortgage statement, mortgage payment booklet or residential rental or lease agreement. (Copies of deeds can be found on the County Property Appraiser website)
• A utility bill or utility connection/work order that is not more than 2 months old.
• Mail from a bank or other financial institution, including checking, savings, or investment account statements, that is not more than 2 months old.
• Mail from a government agency that is not more than 2 months old. (Mail from a government agency can include tax bills showing a Florida address. Tax bills can be found on the County Property Appraiser website).
For more on vaccinations, see these tips.
Any questions regarding proof of Florida residency should be directed to Florida’s COVID-19
Call Center available 24/7 at 866- 779-6121 or email COVIDfirstname.lastname@example.org.