OKEECHOBEE – The Florida Department of Health in Okeechobee County will start taking appointments for COVID-19 vaccinations on Tuesday, Jan. 26 at 8 a.m. Appointments can be made in person at the health department, 1728 NW 9th Ave, Okeechobee.
Appointments fill up quickly. Many local residents, frustrated by their inability to reach DOH by phone. The last time the health department offered appointments, the line started forming at the office at 5 a.m.
This week, vaccination clinics will be held on Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. A message from the health department states, “Although we do have cancellations/no-shows and individuals who may not be able to obtain the vaccine on the day of their appointments, due to social distancing we do not allow individuals to hang around our vaccination POD operation site. Those seeking cancellation spots on vaccination days should be directed to the front desk of the health department for information on any available vaccine as we do not waste drawn shots. Our facility is a public site and you will not be turned away but there is no guarantee you will be given a vaccine on vaccine days without a scheduled appointment.”
Okeechobee County received 800 doses of the Moderna Vaccine on Jan. 22; 500 of those doses will be used for second dose appointments. The second dose of the Moderna vaccine should be administered 28 days after the first dose. For clients who received their initial vaccine from DOH-Okeechobee, the health department staff will make one attempt, prior to the 28 day second dose return date, to call the number provided (and leave a voice message if possible) to offer an appointment for their scheduled second dose vaccination. If unavailable or declined at that time, it will be the individual’s responsibility to contact the health department to make their appointment at a later date.
On Jan. 21, State Surgeon General Scott Rivkees issued a public health advisory prioritizing Florida residents for COVID-19 vaccinations given in Florida. Proof of Florida residency is required when making an appointment,
“The commission would like to share some information regarding what we are doing to assist with the establishing a process for appointments for vaccine,” Okeechobee County Commission Chair Terry Burroughs posted Jan. 22, on the county’s Facebook page. “Within the next week or two, the state is providing an app people can download to their phone, tablet or computer to make an appointment wherever vaccine is available. We have offered usage of the county’s phone bank at the EOC to assist with making appointments to help with calls not being answered. In terms of the availability of vaccine, this is truly an instance of supply and demand. Unfortunately, as I review the amount of vaccine distributed to rural counties in the State, it is disturbing. The commission is communicating daily with our contacts in Tallahassee to improve all aspects of the vaccine process. If you would like to share your concerns during public comment, you can attend the County Commission on Jan. 28, 2021 at 9 a.m.”