With many thousands of seniors in Florida trying to register for COVID-19 vaccines or anxiously waiting to be notified of their appointment time, here are some recent updates on vaccine distribution in Florida:
POLK: Many seniors tell The Ledger they are keeping their phones nearby since that is the only way the Polk office of the Florida Health Department is notifying people of their appointments after they register online at register.polk.health. The Health Department is looking into using email and texting to notify patients, as well, a spokeswoman said.
PUBLIX: Up to 300,000 people try to get an appointment each time Publix Super Markets opens its online portal to new registrations, usually twice a week. The next scheduled registration is at 6 a.m. Friday.
No Publix stores in Polk County stores are offering vaccines yet. The closest stores to Lakeland are in Hernando, Citrus, Marion, Volusia, Brevard and Indian River counties.
Check this guide from the St. Augustine Record to know what to expect when you use the Publix portal.
The state of Florida’s switch to Publix as a distribution point means that some hospitals that had been giving the shots have had their supply cut off, columnist Gil Smart writes in the Treasure Coast Newspapers.
In the Orlando Sentinel, columnist Scott Maxwell wonders why the state of Florida doesn’t partner with more retailers to distribute vaccines.
FLORIDA SUPPLY: The White House and Gov. Ron DeSantis have been feuding recently over whether Florida is acting quickly enough to get people vaccinated. DeSantis says the reason it looks like Florida has lagged is because the state is keeping a reserve for the second dose needed several weeks after a first dose is given.
The Orlando Sentinel examines the second-dose issue and finds that fewer than expected have received their booster dose. There may be a supply issue ties tothe difference between the expected first doses and the actual distribution, but it’s hard to know because the state recently quit updating numbers of people overdue for a second dose on its daily updates, the newspaper reports.
So far, 6.8% of Floridians have received a first dose, and 0.8% have gotten both doses, the Tampa Bay Times reports, citing CDC records. Florida’s 6.8% rate of vaccinations is the 11th highest among the 50 states and ahead of the national average of 6.2%.
BACK TO POLK: The local vaccine story that has gotten national attention involves the two Polk County Fire Rescue officers who were arrested and accused of stealing vaccine doses meant for first responders.
The Tampa Bay Times had probably the most thorough initial report about the arrest of Joshua Colon, 31, who had been named paramedic of the year in 2020. The newspaper followed up Wednesday when Capt. Anthony Brian Damiano, 55, turned himself in.