Okeechobee County starts COVID-19 vaccinations


OKEECHOBEE – Donny Arnold, a firefighter/paramedic at Okeechobee County Fire Rescue, was among those vaccinated for COVID-19 last week at the Okeechobee County Health Department. He brought along a photo of his mother, Jeanette McClure, 78, who died July 27, 2020. While she had underlying health conditions she had battled for years, the doctors told Arnold that COVID-19 was the cause of death.

“She will always be a statistic, the fifth death in Okeechobee as a result of Covid-19,” Arnold explained. “Her birthday would have been Thursday, New Years Eve, the 31st, she would have been 79.

“I feel if we don’t start doing our part to try to slow this spread down, we are going to be in this for a long time,” he explained. If the vaccine prevents another family from burying a loved one, it will have been worth it, he said.

While his mother had health issues for 30 years, the doctors took great care of her and kept her alive, Arnold said. He is convinced she could still be alive if she had not contracted the COVID-19 virus.

In late December, Raulerson Hospital received a shipment of the COVID-19 vaccine and began vaccinating health care professionals there. At the same time, the Okeechobee County Health Department began vaccinating first responders and health care professionals not affiliated with the hospital. On Tuesday, Jan. 5, the Okeechobee County Health Department will start vaccinating those age 65 and older.

Those wishing to schedule an appointment can call the Florida Department of Health in Okeechobee at 863-462-5800 starting at 8 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 4, 2021. Immunizations will begin on Tuesday Jan. 5 at health department, 1728 N.W. Ninth Ave.