National and local news reports show images of long lines of vehicles waiting to obtain COVID-19 vaccinations, as efforts continue to improve the process for signing up for the shots, and to speed the production and distribution of the vaccines.
President Joe Biden last week announced that the United States signed a final contract for 100 million more Moderna and 100 million more Pfizer vaccines. The news came during a Feb. 11 speech at the National Institutes of Health.
Biden also said that 100 million doses that were promised by the end of June now will be delivered by the end of May, and that the country is on track to have enough supply for 300 million shots by the end of July.
A public-private partnership has been launched, as well, with vaccinations being distributed through 21 national pharmacy partners and networks of independent pharmacies representing over 40,000 pharmacy locations across the country. The effort is part of a national strategy to expand equitable access to the vaccines. (More information is available at CDC.gov/covid19)
Participating chains nationwide include Walgreens, CVS, Walmart, Publix, Costco and Winn-Dixie. To find participating local pharmacies, check those companies’ websites.
The retail pharmacy efforts are in addition to ongoing distributions coordinated through local public health departments.
So far, based on Gov. Ron DeSantis’ order, COVID-19 vaccinations are limited to long-term care facility residents and staff; individuals age 65 and older; and, health care personnel with direct patient contact.
Hospital providers also may vaccinate persons deemed extremely vulnerable to COVID-19.
Pasco County seniors can register through the Pasco County health department’s portal.
They also can register through participating private pharmacies.
In Hillsborough County, seniors can pre-register for the state’s portal and reserve their space in line. The state will contact them once it is their turn for a vaccine. Additionally, they can register through participating private pharmacies.
Florida has no county residency requirement, so individuals can attempt to secure an appointment through any of these options.
Despite increased supplies and more vaccination options, Pasco County commissioners said they continue to hear from constituents who are frustrated about not being able to get registered for a shot.
At their Feb. 9 meeting, Commissioner Kathryn Starkey told her colleagues: “I am concerned and want to be sure that we’re doing all we can, that our senior citizens who don’t have access to computers and aren’t computer savvy, are able to figure out how to get on. I’m hearing this over and over again.”
She thinks the county needs to do more to help.
Commissioner Jack Mariano agreed. He’d like to see a system that would allow people to sign up and be put on a waiting list, and then to be notified when a vaccine becomes available.
That would be better, he said, “even if you’re going to be (number) 135,000 — as opposed to not getting in the system.”
Starkey reiterated her concerns: “The queue is the queue. I’m just saying, some people don’t know how to get in the queue.”
County Administrator Dan Biles noted there is a telephone number that people can call to make appointments.
Starkey responded: “I know, but it’s really hard to get through.
Biles observed: “You have 100,000 people trying to get 1,000 shots. It’s going to be hard to get through right now.”
Meanwhile, across the country, 52.9 million COVID-19 vaccines have been distributed, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The number of COVID-19 cases nationally stood at more than 27.4 million, as of Feb. 14, and there has been a downward trend in cases for the past 30 days. The death toll for COVID-19 related cases stood at 482,536.
In Florida, the total number of positive cases exceeded 1.82 million, and there were 28,779 resident deaths, as of Feb. 14, according to data recorded on the Florida Department of Health’s COVID-19 dashboard.
The figures stood at 31,348 positive resident cases in Pasco County, and 642 deaths; and at 105,531 positive resident cases and 1,397 deaths in Hillsborough County.
In Pasco County: Go to PatientPortalFl.com to complete an account with CDR Maguire Health & Medical for upcoming appointments, or call 1-844-770-8548. New appointments open up every Sunday at 2 p.m., for the following week, and are typically filled within minutes.
In Hillsborough County: Call 866-200-3896, TTY 844-251-5532, or visit MyVaccine.fl.gov.
National Retail Pharmacy Program: Some retail pharmacies also are participating in a public-private partnership to administer COVID-19 vaccinations. Check the website of individual retail pharmacies to find out more.
For the most recent COVID-19 vaccination information, check with your local health department websites.
Published February 17, 2021