SUBMITTED BY THE BOCA GRANDE HEALTH CLINIC – Submission Note: The COVID-19 situation remains fluid. This article reflects information known at the time it was submitted to The Boca Beacon.
Like the coronavirus pandemic itself, what’s happening with the COVID-19 vaccine in Florida is an evolving situation. Demand for the COVID-19 vaccine far exceeds the supply the state has received so far. This supply chain deficiency will continue to challenge our ability to vaccinate the Island.
Like all providers, the Boca Grande Health Clinic is subject to national and state distribution plans, so we have very little, if any, control over the timing of when vaccine will be supplied. The Clinic is working closely with the state of Florida to receive additional supplies of vaccine as quickly as possible. Over the course of a nine-week span of time, the clinic has received just two small shipments of the vaccine.
The Clinic remains focused on administering the vaccine to patients 65 years and older. The Clinic has been scheduling patients based on vaccine supply (which is very low) and will continue to schedule more individuals as more supply is received.
The goal is to vaccinate everyone on the Island that is interested. “The vaccines are highly effective in preventing illness due to the virus and will protect you from getting sick,” said Boca Grande Health Clinic Medical Director Dr. Lauren M. Hana, M.D. “Millions of people have safely been vaccinated with little to no major side effects.”
More vaccine supply is hopefully arriving but meeting community demand for the COVID-19 vaccine will take some time to complete.
Additional options for vaccination
According to Florida Gov. Gov. Ron DeSantis, there are more than 300 vaccination sites statewide. Given the limited amount of vaccine available on Island, you may want to investigate other options for vaccination. These include:
• County vaccination sites. Go to https://floridahealthcovid19.gov/vaccines/vaccine-locator/ and filter by county and city to find locations.
• Publix is now offering vaccination appointments. These must be scheduled online at Publix: https://www.publix.com/covid-vaccine/florida. Appointments cannot be made by calling Publix or the Publix Pharmacy.
Right now, healthcare personnel with direct patient contact, residents and staff of long-term healthcare facilities, and adults aged 65 years and older are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine in Florida, by appointment only. The state of Florida requires that those receiving their first vaccine dose provide proof of residency meeting certain criteria.
Six ways to improve your chances
1. Pre-register. The state has developed a pre-registration system to schedule COVID-19 vaccinations for priority populations. Pre-registration is available online or by phone. Pre-register online by visiting myvaccine.fl.gov or call 1-866-200-3468. Once you are pre-registered, you are placed in a queue for a call back. According to information available from the state, every eligible individual will receive a call back when appointments become available.
2. Know when appointments will be available. Your best bet is to stay on top of local news as new information is shared through traditional media outlets and online.
• Follow Lee County on Twitter @FLHEALTHLEE and check out leegov.com/vaccine.
• In Charlotte County, you can sign up for the CharCoCares text system and receive local COVID-19 updates and announcements about vaccine availability. To sign up, text “CharCoCares” to 888-777 on your smartphone to opt in.
• Publix recommends people log into its website promptly at 6 a.m. as appointments fill up fast.
3. Be patient. It’s easy to become frustrated but that only creates stress you can live without.
4. Be persistent. It may feel a little like “dialing for dollars,” but persistence plays a big part in getting lucky enough to score a vaccine appointment. Enlist the help of family members who can join you in going online to try for an appointment slot.
5. Be prepared. Make sure you are using the latest version of your internet browser. You’ll be asked to answer a lot of questions as part of the enrollment process. Have your health information on hand so you can enter it and quickly proceed from step to step.
6. Proceed with caution. The age-old adage “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is” should be followed. Keep in mind that you can’t pay to get your name on a vaccine list or to get early/easy access to the vaccine. And if someone calls you about an appointment and asks for your Social Security number, banking information or credit card number – hang up.
Keep the faith
While it may seem like it’s taking forever to roll out vaccines, keep in mind that COVID-19 vaccines have reached consumers in record time. What typically takes 10 to 15 years has happened in under one year. Production of Pfizer’s and Moderna’s vaccines continue to ramp up. And Johnson & Johnson plans to file for an emergency use authorization in the U.S. in early February for its vaccine, which requires just one dose, and approval could follow shortly afterward.
Stay safe while you wait
Until there is widespread availability of the vaccine, it’s vital that we remain on guard and take all of the appropriate measures to protect ourselves and our community from the spread of COVID-19. For your own health and to protect the health of those you love, please wear a mask, wash your hands, social distance, avoid gatherings of more than 10, isolate if ill and quarantine if you have had an exposure
• Publix: .publix.com/covid-vaccine/florida
• Charlotte County: charlotte.floridahealth.gov/events/2021/01/CharlotteCOVID-19VaccineInfo.html
• Lee County: lee.floridahealth.gov/programs-and-services/wellness-programs/immunizations/covid19vaccinations.html