In total, 17,993 residents in Monroe County have received at least one COVID vaccine shot (9,784 fully vaccinated; 8,149 first dose). That’s 23% of the population.

Monroe County held its third mass vaccination event at Bernstein Park this past weekend, vaccinating about 400. The two previous weeks saw 300 vaccinated on Stock Island and 200 in Marathon. In addition, the health department vaccinated 300-plus educators and child care workers on March 13. And, according to Monroe County Emergency Management Director Shannon Weiner, the College of the Florida Keys provided 300 second-dose vaccines on March 14.

“I would expect there will be more vaccines available in a very short period of time,” said Bob Eadie of the state Department of Health in Monroe County. “We get 500 doses a week and that’s not very much. I haven’t seen any indication that the health department will be getting much more than that for the foreseeable future, and that is OK as long as vaccines become more available at more spots.”

Currently, some of the Keys’ Publix and Winn-Dixie stores are participating in the federal retail pharmacy program which provides vaccinations to those who register on the companies’ websites. Publix Pharmacy now administers both the Moderna (two-dose) and Johnson & Johnson (one-dose) vaccines, subject to availability.

The closest federally supported vaccination site is located at Miami Dade Community College – North Campus, 11380 NW 27th Ave., Miami, Florida. It reportedly administers 4,000 vaccinations daily (7 a.m. to 7 p.m.) and no appointment is required, so long as patients meet the eligibility criteria (see below). Through Tuesday, March 23, satellite vaccination hubs are operating at Charles Hadley Park in Miami and the Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center in Cutler Bay. 

State supported vaccination sites in Miami are located at Miami-Dade’s Hard Rock Stadium (from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily) and Marlins Park (8 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily). Individuals can pre-register for vaccine appointments and be notified when appointments are available in their area by visiting MyVaccine.FL.gov

Who is eligible? Currently, that includes persons 60 and older; K-12 school employees 50 years of age and older; sworn law enforcement officers 50 years of age and older; and firefighters 50 years of age and older; and any health care workers who have direct contact with patients.

Under federal law, all teachers in Florida are also eligible as well as persons under 65 who are deemed “medically vulnerable” by a physician. 

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The medically vulnerable must have a signed form and can only obtain the vaccine at federal vaccination sites or a pharmacy that is participating in the federal retail pharmacy program, which in Monroe County are Publix and Winn-Dixie. The form is available by searching “COVID-19 Determination of Extreme Vulnerability” on an internet search engine.  

On March 16, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said he expects to lower the age from 60 to 55 by the end of the month and said he hopes the vaccine eligibility will be open to any adult who wants it by May 1.  

According to a CDC report released on March 15, about 3 percent (or 33,000) of Floridians have missed the second dose of their COVID-19 vaccine. However, data suggests that even just one dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine offers some protection against the virus. 

For more information about vaccines in the Keys, visit monroe.flhealth.gov/vax. To register with the state for an appointment, visit MyVaccine.FL.gov.

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