Rural areas still lag behind in covid vaccine availability

Posted 4/6/21

Approximately 30% of Florida’s total population has received at least one COVID-19 vaccination shot

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Rural areas still lag behind in covid vaccine availability


Approximately 30% of Florida’s total population has received at least one COVID-19 vaccination shot, but vaccinations in the rural communities continue to lag behind those of the more affluent coastal areas.

In Florida, COVID-19 vaccinations opened to anyone over the age of 18 on April 5.

As of the April 5 data from Florida Department of Health:

• Glades County has vaccinated 2,047 residents, which represents about 14.8% of the county’s population.

• Hendry County has vaccinated 7,667 residents, about 18.2% of the county’s population.

• Okeechobee County has vaccinated 8,368 residents, about 19.8% of the county’s population.

Compare that to coastal counties:

• Palm Beach County has vaccinated 465,615, about 31.1% of the county’s population.

• Martin County has vaccinated 56,780, about 35.3% of the county’s population.

• Lee County has vaccinated 243,950, about 31.7% of the county’s population.

While state officials claim logistics cause the rural areas to have lower vaccination numbers, some county officials say the state simply has not allocated the vaccine equally. For example, the Okeechobee County vaccination site has received just 500 doses a week while officials at the site say they could easily handle double that amount.

Florida’s vaccination numbers also show Blacks and Hispanics with lower vaccination numbers. The census data indicates 16.9% of the Florida population identifies as Black. The census shows 26.4% of the population is Hispanic. According to the FDOH data released April 5, of the people vaccinated in Florida so far, 6.4% percent are Black, and 13.1% are Hispanic.

Most vaccination sites in South Central Florida require an appointment, although some sites will vaccinate walk-ins if there are not enough appointments made to use up all of that day’s allocation of vaccine or if some people with appointments are no-shows.

Any Floridian may use any vaccination site in the state.  If you use the state website to request an appointment, you will have to choose a county but you are not required to choose your county of residence.

• For Okeechobee County appointments, go online or call 866-201-1060.
• For Hendry County appointments, go online to or call 866-201-6745.
• For Glades County appointments, go online to or call 866-201-6745.
• For Martin County appointments, go online to or call 866-201-7037.
• For Palm Beach County appointments go online to or call 561-804-4115.
• For Collier County appointments, go online to

Vaccination appointments may also be made at  Publix, CVS, Walgreens and Walmart pharmacies in Florida. These pharmacies require appointments be made on their websites.

• For Publix, go to
• For Walmart go to
• For CVS, go to
• For Walgreens go to

You can also find COVID-19 vaccinations available near you on the state website at

Of note: When vaccinations began, Florida prioritized those over the age of 65  so the early vaccination numbers were skewed by the winter residents. Most winter residents are over the age of 65 and identify as White and non-Hispanic. While the census does not count these individuals as Florida residents, those who owned or rented property in Florida are considered residents for the purpose of vaccine eligibility.