Update on COVID-19 Vaccination Rollout in Florida

by SC Guest Contributor Barbara Joy Cooley

Florida has a problem with distributing and administering the COVID-19 vaccines. According to the CDC on January 14, about 1,680,200 have been distributed in Florida. But as of that date, only 705,398 people have been given the vaccines in Florida – and that’s just their first dose. That’s a rate of 3,284 per 100,000.

According to the Florida Department of Health, as of January 11, 2021 more than 11,000 individuals will have been vaccinated at Lee County sites open to the public (i.e., does not include sites for health care staff). That’s a rate of 1,428 per 100,000

Although vaccines are supposed to be available to Florida citizens over 65 years old, it seems that half of the vaccines are being held back for some reason that has not been explained. Meanwhile, it is very difficult to schedule a vaccine appointment in Lee County where citizens must call a phone number at a specific time frame on a certain day. The phone banks, managed by the state vendor Tidal Basin Group, have been woefully unable to handle the number of calls. Most callers have been met with busy signals and dropped calls, in spite of repeatedly calling for 30 to 60 minutes, before finally receiving a recorded message saying that all appointments have been filled.

Collier County, on the other hand, is using online reservation systems. The Collier County health department is using EventBrite.com, and the Naples hospital system is using their own web site to periodically schedule vaccinations, as they become available. Those systems, too, have been overwhelmed by the demand. However, those systems do not waste so much of the user’s time.

At the Lee Health hospital system this week, the occupancy rate has hovered around 96 percent and the daily positivity rate (number of COVID-19 tests that are positive) for tests in the Lee Health system has ranged from 21.9 percent to 36 percent.

Some immunizing of over-65 patients is being done in the Lee Health system, where members of the Lee Physicians Group (LPG) can refer their patients to be vaccinated at LPG primary care locations, according to a Lee Health memorandum dated January 6. Walk ins are not accepted; appointments are required.

Comments (6)

  1. With the large numbers in our area that are eligible for the vaccine a method of having fewer people calling or going on line at the same time should help. Have certain age groups only call between certain hours and if anyone calls at the wrong time the system should not take the reservation. This is what Hillsborough County is doing – 85 and up calls between 8-9 am; 80-85 between 9-10 am and so on. With all the frustration, worry and disappointment for many Seniors it’s worth investigating.

  2. Thomas D’Altrui

    The Lee county phone registration program for the vaccine is not working. Online registration is the way to go. One can sign up get into the system in an orderly manner and be called when the vaccine is available. I have wasted my time calling for hours on the appropriate dates & I still am not in the system as my calls have not been received.

  3. Whey don’t they distribute 6000 vaccines to the 2 drug stores on Sanibel and have them vaccinaterobert the 6000 permanent residents of Sanibel?

  4. Still awaiting registration & site to receive vaccine, as we are 75+!!

  5. I struggle with not having been able to get vaccinated here, and I AM a resident, while non-residents are getting THEIR vaccinations!
    My husband and I are in highly compromised positions, as many are, vs some, who are not, as well as those non-residents getting their vaccinations…. it doesn’t feel right!
    However, it’s FL, and so much has not felt right here…. in the last 4 years.
    Any response that might be helpful?

  6. Kristi MacKinnon

    I am wondering if the towns of Sanibel and Captiva could organize a vaccination sight on the island. My husband and I, and I’m sure many others prefer not to leave the island due to increased chance of Covid infection. Others may not have the transportation. I’m sure there are many retired medical people living here who would volunteer their time to get needles in arms! Rather than having to make frustrating phone calls, you could organize it by the first letter of your last name.

Leave a Comment

We are interested in articulate, well-informed remarks that are relevant to the article. We welcome your advice, your criticism and your unique insights into the issues of the day. To be approved for publication, your comments should be civil and avoid name-calling. It may take up to 24 hours for your comment to appear, if it is approved.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.