Local Publix stores just beginning to receive COVID-19 vaccines, but first wave already booked as of this week

January 23, 2021
By Marcy Shortuse

BY MARCY SHORTUSE – Publix stores in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina have announced they are providing COVID-19 vaccines to those who are healthcare personnel with direct patient contact, residents and staff of long-term healthcare facilities and adults aged 65 years and older. Vaccines are provided by appointment only, and the first batch has been spoken for, but there will be several waves of new batches available. Starting today, Friday, Jan. 22 after 6 a.m., eligible customers were able to access appointment availability beginning Saturday, Jan. 23.

Publix stores participating in the vaccine program include: Merchants Crossing, 1500 Placida Rd., Englewood; Port Charlotte Crossing, 4265 Tamiami Trail, Port Charlotte; Publix at Gulf Cove, 13435 S. McCall Rd., Port Charlotte; Quesada Commons, 19451 Cochran Blvd., Port Charlotte; Peachland Promenade, 24051 Peachland Blvd., Port Charlotte; Punta Gorda Crossing, 2310 Tamiami Trail, Punta Gorda; and Burnt Store Marketplace, 3941 Tamiami Trail, Punta Gorda.

For a complete list of counties and stores participating, go to publix.com/covid-vaccine/florida.

Lee County announced on Wednesday, Jan. 20 that the 5,800 available appointments for this week at the Florida Department of Health-Lee and Lee County vaccination sites were claimed within minutes of the reservation call line opening.

The call line opened at 9 a.m. as scheduled. The appointments for Thursday and Friday were filled when that happened. Tidal Basin representatives say people who called were either scheduled for appointments while on the line, or prompted to leave their contact information to receive a call back. Once all slots were filled, some callers received a message that appointments were no longer available. Some callers received a busy signal.

The vendor, Tidal Basin, continues to add operators to handle the volume of incoming calls.

The State of Florida continues to work with the vendor to develop an online registration system. More information about that system will be announced when it is released by the state.

The vendor has a Help Line that is available at (888) 499-0851 for questions about the registration process. The Help Line is not able to schedule appointments.

The number of doses available for next week is not yet known, and appointments for first doses for the week of January 25 were not being made as of press time.

For those who secured appointments for Thursday and Friday, operations at the site will continue as in past weeks. At this time, Lee County has not received any information from the Governor’s Office related to proof-of-residency requirements.

Vaccinations are available for people age 65 and older and frontline healthcare workers at the site east of Interstate 75 off Daniels Parkway. It’s the site of the old airport terminal parking lot. Message boards are in place to direct traffic.

When those registered arrive on site, officials will request ID showing proof of age before allowing them to queue up. People are asked to arrive no more than 45 minutes before their assigned vaccination time. Even though this is an appointment system, processing times may vary. Be prepared for some wait time.

Those with reservations can expedite the process by arriving prepared: visit leegov.com/vaccine to read the Moderna vaccination information and to print and complete the consent form.

Social distancing and masks are encouraged; take into account weather conditions. Portable toilets, handwashing stations, drinking water and some chairs will be available. For safety and security, county government and Lee County Sheriff’s Office staff are on site.

This is not a drive-thru site. The site is ADA compliant. No dogs are allowed, with the exception of service animals.

At the Charlotte County Health Department all COVID-19 vaccine appointments are now full. More will be announced when they become available.

There is no fee for the vaccine. Identification is required. If you are a healthcare worker, bring identification and a copy of your ID badge or a current paystub.

All individuals who received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine through the Florida Department of Health in Charlotte County prior to Jan. 20 will be contacted to schedule their second dose.  From Jan. 20 on, the second dose will be scheduled when the first dose is administered. Bring ID & COVID-19 Vaccination Card. Complete your Consent Form ahead of time for a faster process.

Vaccination is not recommended if:

• You are currently experiencing COVID-19 like symptoms or any other illness. Please wait until you are symptom free for 24 hours.

• You have had COVID-19 within the last 90 days. Check back after 90 days.

For more information go to charlotte.floridahealth.gov/events/2021/01/CharlotteCOVID-19VaccineInfo.html.