Demand for COVID-19 vaccine overwhelms supply

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South Central Florida residents over the age of 65 are scrambling to make appointments for COVID-19 vaccinations, only to be disappointed with busy signals, health department phone systems failing, traffic jams in areas where vaccinations are advertised and signs stating all appointments are full at vaccination locations.

After vaccinating health care professionals and residents of nursing homes, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines recommended making those over age 75 and essential works the next priority. Instead, Gov. Ron DeSantis decided to open vaccinations to anyone over the age of 65. Florida is home to millions of people over the age of 65 – not even counting the seasonal residents. The demand for the vaccine greatly exceeds the supply.
Vaccinations to date

As of Jan. 11, according to the Florida Department of Health Jan. 12 report, 597,119 people in Florida had received their first dose of vaccine and 51,234 people have received the second dose for a total of 648,353 vaccinations.

The vaccine is federally funded. Health care professionals and those over the age of 65 can go to any county for vaccination. There are no residency requirements.

In South Central Florida, county health departments are waiting for more vaccine supplies.
• Collier County: 9,887 vaccinated with first dose; 41 persons vaccinated with second dose;
• Glades County: 393 vaccinated with first dose; none vaccinated with second dose:
• Hendry County: 1,111 vaccinated with first dose; one vaccinated with second dose;
• Highlands County: 1,863 vaccinated with first dose; 136 vaccinated with second dose;
• Lee County: 23,098 vaccinated with first dose; 76 vaccinated with second dose;
• Martin County: 5,656 vaccinated with first dose; 25 vaccinated with second dose;
• Okeechobee County: 850 vaccinated with first dose; three vaccinated with second dose;
• Palm Beach County: 46,991 vaccinated with first dose; 969 vaccinated with second dose.
• St. Lucie County: 6,377 vaccinated with first dose; 16 vaccinated with second dose.

Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses. The Pfizer vaccine booster should be given 21 days after the first dose; the Moderna booster should be given 28 days after the first dose. Amy Cormier at the Florida Department of Health in Okeechobee County, explained they are not making appointments for the second dose yet. “I communicate it is their responsibility to make arrangements to obtain appointments for the same vaccine (i.e. if they receive Moderna for the first vaccine they have to get Moderna sometime 28 days later) however we hope to have the opportunity to make that process more efficient for those that we gave the first dose to. Again, our directive is not to hold the second dose back and to get vaccine into arms and not hold onto doses,” she explained.

How to make an appointment

There is no standard in Florida for making vaccination appointments. The state has left this up to each county’s health department.

• Collier County: Appointments for the COVID-19 vaccine will be made via Eventbrite. Please visit CollierCountyCOVIDVaccines.Eventbrite.com.

• Glades County: Vaccination appointments and wait list are full. When more vaccine is available, vaccinations will be by appointment and will be available at the Glades County Health Department, 1021 Health Park Drive, Moore Haven, 863-946-0707. 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.

• Hendry County: Vaccination appointments and wait list are full. Additional vaccination appointment dates and details will be shared once that information is available. When additional vaccine doses are available, more appointment times will be available. Those who are on the vaccination appointment wait list, will receive a call from the Hendry County Health Department when a appointment becomes available. If you have an appointment, please remember to fill out the vaccination consent form prior to your appointment at www.preparehendry.com.

• Highlands County: Vaccines will continue to be administered on an appointment-only basis at the Point Of Distribution (POD) at Lakeshore Mall, 901 U.S. 27 North, in Sebring. To register for an appointment or put your name on the waiting list, go online to www.highlandsfl.gov/vaccine_information/index.php and follow the link.

• Lee County: All appointments have been filled. New reservations will open as vaccines are received by the Florida Department of Health. For updates go online to www.leegov.com/covid-19/vaccine.

• Martin County: To request a vaccination and schedule an appointment, please call 772-221-4000 and select Option 3, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Visit martin.floridahealth.gov/index.html to find more information and resources about COVID-19.

• Okeechobee County: According to the Florida Department of Health in Okeechobee County, all appointments are full and Okeechobee County did not get a distribution of the vaccine this week. Okeechobee County is not maintaining a waiting list. For announcements regarding future appointments, watch the health department website, http://okeechobee.floridahealth.gov/

• Palm Beach County: Palm Beach County is vaccinating about 500 people per day according to Dr. Alina Alonso of the Health Care District of Palm Beach County. She hopes the vaccine will become more readily available for larger distribution in the coming weeks. The county has over 400,000 residents over the age of 65. Walk up COVID-19 testing is available at the Health Care District of Palm Beach County C. L. Brumback Primary Care Clinic at Lakeside Medical Center, 39200 Hooker Hwy, Belle Glade, 33430. Monday through Friday; 8 a.m. to noon for any age, with or without symptoms. Call 561-642-1000 for an appointment. Appointments for vaccinations can only be requested by sending an email to chd50feedback@flhealth.gov. Please remember to include your name, phone number, and date of birth. All emails are being received and logged and senders will be contacted in order with further instructions as appointment slots and options become available.

• St. Lucie County: All appointments are booked. Register with Alert St. Lucie (www.stlucieco.gov/alert) to be notified when vaccines are available.
COVID-19 deaths

As residents wait for a chance to make an appointment to be vaccinated, the number of COVID-19 cases and the deaths related to the virus continue to increase. As of Jan. 12:

• Collier County had 363 COVID-19-related deaths; with 1,316 COVID-19 positive residents hospitalized to date with 110 currently hospitalized related to COVID-19, according to the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA). Sixteen of the county’s 85 ICU beds are open.

• Glades County had 11 COVID-19-related deaths with 63 COVID-19 positive residents hospitalized to date with no residents current hospitalized related to COVID-19, according to AHCA. Glades County does not have a hospital.

• Hendry County had 52 COVID-19-related deaths with 280 COVID-19 positive residents hospitalized to date with five residents currently hospitalized according to AHCA. All four of the county’s ICU beds are open.

• Highlands County had 220 COVID-19-related deaths and 461 COVID-19 positive residents hospitalized to date with 63 currently hospitalized related to COVID-19. According to AHCA, five of the county’s 29 ICU beds are available.

• Lee County had 715 COVID-19-related deaths and 1,931 COVID-19 positive residents hospitalized to date with 162 residents currently hospitalized related to COVID-19. According to AHCA, 23 of the county’s 118 ICU beds are currently available.

• Martin County had 218 COVID-19-related deaths and 576 COVID-19 positive residents hospitalized to date with 30 residents currently hospitalized related to COVID-19. According to AHCA, 11 of the county’s 22 ICU beds are open.

• Okeechobee County had 54 COVID-19 related deaths and 274 COVID-19 positive residents hospitalized to date with 29 residents currently hospitalized related to COVID-19. All eight of the county’s ICU beds are in use.

• Palm Beach County had 1,972 COVID-19-related deaths and 5,182 COVID-19 positive residents hospitalized to date with 436 residents currently hospitalized related to COVID-19. According to AHCA 124 of the county’s 406 ICU adult ICU beds are open and 11 of the county’s 21 pediatric ICU beds are open.

• St. Lucie County had 430 COVID-19-related deaths and 1,104 COVID-19 positive residents hospitalized to date with 145 residents currently hospitalized related to COVID-19. Two of the county’s 75 ICU beds are open.

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