On Thursday, March 4, the Marathon Fire Rescue will be picking up its allotment of COVID-19 vaccine to inoculate homebound seniors. The list of seniors who cannot leave their home due to physical limitations, or do not have transportation to a vaccination site, will be provided by the Monroe County Health Department working off data it has collected from local agencies. Homebound seniors are usually receiving home health or skilled nursing care. Current estimates are 100 homebound persons in the Keys.

County emergency management staff, the county health department, and county and municipal fire rescue staff have been working on the plan for weeks, according to Monroe County Emergency Operations Director Shannon Weiner. 

“We are in the process of pulling data from various sources to make sure we have a comprehensive and verified list of the homebound throughout the county,” said Weiner. 

A spokesperson from the Monroe County Health Department said it is receiving about 500 doses a week currently, up from the 100 doses a week it was distributing in late January. 

On Feb. 28, the College of the Florida Keys, in partnership with the Florida Department of Health in Monroe County, Monroe County Emergency Management, Marathon Fire Rescue, and Monroe County Sheriff’s Office held a vaccination event at the Marathon Airport. PAUL PELLERITO/DOH-MONROE COUNTY

Marathon Fire Rescue Chief John Johnson said his paramedics have been tasked with administering the vaccine to homebound seniors in Marathon. He said he will wait until he has a list of 10 people who can be inoculated on a single day so as not to waste the vaccine. 

“Once I open a vial, the doses must be used within 6 hours,” Johnson said. 

Vaccinations for the Keys’ homebound are being administered by municipal and county paramedics and the shots come from the health department.  

Mass vaccinations

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In another project, the county has also partnered with nursing students from the College of the Florida Keys to administer vaccines to eligible seniors, health care workers, and school personnel and law enforcement officers who are 50 years old or older. That program is being administered by ShareCare, an outside consulting firm responsible for contacting residents and scheduling appointments.

On Feb. 28, 300 Keys residents were vaccinated at the Marathon airport. Only those with an appointment were able to get the shot; walk-ups were not allowed. More mass vaccination dates are scheduled, including one in Key Largo at the Murray Nelson Government Center on Saturday, March 6. Again, the vaccinations are by pre-arranged appointment only. 

Those who are eligible for the vaccine can register at myvaccine.fl.gov or by calling 866-201-7069 or for TTY at 833-990-2908. For additional assistance, please call the helpline at 833-540-2081.  For more information and other locations to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, visit monroe.flhealth.gov/vax.

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