Palm Beach County Officials Collaborating With State to Improve Vaccine Availability for Seniors
By: Robert S Weinroth
I am pleased to report the Palm Beach County Commissioners and the county’s emergency officials are working behind the scenes with local Florida Department of Health (FDOH) representatives on logistics to improve the COVID-19 vaccination rollout.
According to Jared Moskowitz, director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management, the federal government reduced the amount of vaccine available to the FDOH by nearly 50 percent from two weeks ago.
We expect that trend to reverse itself with the announcement Friday of President-Elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s plan to release nearly all available doses and use the Defense Production Act to increase the number of doses being produced.
As the supply of vaccine increases over the next several months, venues to receive vaccinations in Palm Beach County will be expanded.
This strategy will use fixed regionally-located vaccination centers, points of distribution sites (PODS), clinic operations, pharmacies and mobile pop-up community sites.
The Board of County Commissioners has no control over the distribution nor can the county make appointments for residents to receive the vaccines. The local Florida Department of Health unit is the sole agency with that authority and it is operating under the direction of Governor Ron DeSantis.
We have been advised, to date, the FDOH has only received approximately 25,000 doses. Vaccine shipments are currently being sent weekly. Last week FDOH received only 7,500 doses.
The county has over 400,000 seniors and 1.5 million residents.
Emails sent to the FDOH requesting a vaccination will be held in queue, and as vaccine doses become available, those individuals will be contacted by FDOH. Vaccination appointments are based on vaccine availability.
The FDOH-PBC has advised they have the capability to vaccinate 1,000 people per day, but have not received adequate supplies of the vaccine to reach that goal.
For now, approximately 500 people per day are being vaccinated in the county, according to Dr. Alina Alonso, the FDOH’s local director. She hopes the vaccine will become more readily available for larger distribution in the coming weeks.
At the same time, a mass COVID-19 vaccination site could open at the South Florida Fairgrounds in West Palm Beach by the end of the month.
The Health Care District of Palm Beach County is looking for COVID-19 vaccine assistants to assist with operations at the future vaccination site which could open at the end of the month.
Until the shipments increase, we are asking our residents to continue to act in a socially responsible fashion and to remain patient.