COVID-19 vaccines are trickling into Monroe County, as Publix pharmacies in Islamorada and Key West prepare to administer another round to residents this week.
A total of 600 doses were allocated to the Keys this week and next week as the state dishes out doses to healthcare personnel and those over 65 years old. Five hundred will be split between Publix stores in Key West and Islamorada. The remaining doses are headed to the Florida Health Department in Monroe County.
Bob Eadie, Monroe County’s top health officer, said doses are divided based on the number of people over 65 in the county. Around 23,000 residents in the Keys are over 65, and that equates to about 17% of the population.
Eligible individuals seeking a vaccination through Publix must sign up online beginning Wednesday, Jan. 27 at 6 a.m. Appointments run from Thursday, Jan. 28 to Sunday, Jan. 31. Online reservations will go back online on Friday, Jan. 29, at 6 a.m. for appointments from Monday, Feb. 1 to Wednesday, Feb. 3. Publix officials say appointments can’t be made by calling Publix of the pharmacy.
Only Florida residents will be able to get the vaccine at this time, per an order signed recently by the state Surgeon General Scott Rivkees. Individuals must show proof of residency through a driver’s license or identification. Those possessing neither must present two forms proving residency through a utility bill, deed or mail from a financial institution, to name a few.
While supplies are limited, Eadie said they’ve received enough doses for people needing their second vaccination.
“The good thing so far, the second dose doesn’t appear to have any fluctuation at all. Someone who’s received the initial dose will get the second dose on time,” Eadie said. “We’re in the process of notifying those people who got their first shot as to when their appointment is.”
Eadie said the health department is ready to move quickly when enough supplies come into the county that allow for mass vaccinations. But that remains to be seen.
“I’m frustrated as much as people who want the vaccine,” Eadie said.
Both ends of the county are receiving vaccines, leaving the middle islands including Marathon without a location to get vaccinated. Eadie said he’ll be pushing to distribute whatever they can to Marathon.
“I haven’t determined how we can do it since we have to vaccinate first-line medical people and finish vaccinating EMTs,” he said. “If I can, I will allocate more vaccines to Marathon.”
With limited supplies also comes a delay in the state’s online reservation where people can go to sign up for an appointment. According to the Florida Health Department, a website with registration links and telephones numbers isn’t expected to be available until Feb. 12. It’s due to an unanticipated lag in the arrival of additional COVID-19 vaccines.
“When the online state scheduling system becomes available, it will allow those to register for an appointment for the vaccine using their smartphone, computer, or tablet, and – for those who do not have internet access— an 800-number will be shared,” the Florida Health Department says.
So far, 1.4 million vaccines have been administered throughout the state. Of those, just over 1.2 million received the first dose. Close to 158,000 were administered the second dose.
Around 5,600 in Monroe County have been vaccinated, according to the latest data, with 5,300 obtaining their first and 300 receiving both doses.