The next opportunity for people 65 and older to sign up for COVID-19 vaccinations through the Florida Health Department’s Polk County office will take place on Friday, according to the latest update on the agency’s website. But the method to register for appointments has not been announced yet.

“We will be opening another round of registrations this Friday for COVID-19 vaccination appointments next week. More information on how to register will be provided soon. Please continue to monitor this website for updates on how to do so,” the agency said in its update.

Health Department officials ask residents not to telephone the agency for now since a flood of incoming calls have overwhelmed and shut down their phone system.

Check updates on vaccine distribution in other Central Florida counties: ABC Action News | Fox 13 News

Dr. Joy Jackson, the agency’s director, has asked for patience, saying that vaccine supplies made available to Polk County have been limited.

The Health Department’s Polk office held a brief registration on Monday for inoculations being given today, and the 250 available slots were filled quickly, News Channel 8 reported.

The agency is dispensing vaccines this week to residents of two 55+ communities: Cypress Lakes, a golf community on U.S. 98 North, and the Hamptons Golf & Country Club in Auburndale. Both have Community Emergency Response Teams and are the only communities in Polk to have received that designation, which includes training that allows them to become “points of distribution,” The Ledger reported.

At Cypress Lakes, 1,410 people are registered to receive vaccines over three days, ABC Action News reported.

“It was very well organized. We had the paramedics, we had the nurses, the volunteers. They did a fantastic job,” Sylvia Camerano, who got her vaccination Monday, told the station.

In Polk, 5,450 people have received vaccinations, according to today’s update from the Florida Department of Health. Many of those doses were given to residents at staff at nursing homes. In addition, Lakeland Regional Medical Center is vaccinating staff members who come into with COVID-19 patients.

Polk ranks 20th among Florida’s 67 counties in the number of people vaccinated, even though it’s the ninth most populous county.

Polk County commissioners this week started showing impatience with the Department of Health’s slow rollout here and the level of communication.

“The state of Florida and the Polk County health care is driving this bus. I’ve been beat up and beat down and everybody up here has about it,” commission chair Rick Wilson said during a commission meeting.

Added Commissioner George Lindsey: “Silence, not conveying the plan, is not an acceptable course of action.” 

In response, Dr. Jackson told News Channel 8, “The way we’re doing things may look a little differently than neighboring counties but we’re just as passionate about getting the vaccine out as quickly as possible. We have not had nearly enough vaccine for the tens of thousands of people who want it right now.”

Indeed, nearby counties have communicated more about opportunities to register for vaccinations, but at least three nearby counties — Hillsborough, Pinellas and Hernando — stopped taking reservations Tuesday as they ran out of supplies.

Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Tuesday that Lakeland-based Publix Super Markets would start offering vaccines at 22 stores in three counties: Citrus, Hernando and Marion. Stores and addresses are listed here. They’ll start taking reservations online on Thursday.

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Barry Friedman founded in 2015 as the culmination of a career in print and digital journalism. Since 1982, he has used the tools of reporting, editing and content curation to help people in Lakeland understand their community better.

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