ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. — A vaccine developed in record time is taking longer than some hoped to actually get the shot in people's arms.
St. Johns County is trying to address issues and questions now that it is handling the vaccine program locally.
There was some frustration at Tuesday’s St. Johns County Commission meeting regarding the state health department’s vaccine plan, which resulted in long lines last week. However, the mood was still tempered.
"We had senior citizens waiting for hours, sleeping in their cars overnight, which is absolutely unacceptable," County Commissioner Jeremiah Blocker said.
Seeing the state health department lacked manpower and resources, the county took over the local process over the weekend. The state health department accepted the help.
Now, the county’s paramedics and EMT’s are giving the initial vaccines to people 65 years and older at the Solomon Calhoun Community Center in West Augustine. However, there is no word on when shipments for the necessary second dose will arrive from the state health department.
"We have not been given the date that shipment is coming in," St. Johns County Administrator Hunter Conrad told commissioners. "We are making those appointments with the expectation the shipment is coming. We’ve been told by the department of health that it’s going to come. We're operating under that premise."
St. Johns County is also considering letting volunteers help with the vaccine process in order to lighten the load on fire personnel currently working the site.
"It seems to me, with the number of retirees we have from the military, we could get help with logistics and with medical," County Commissioner Paul Waldron said. "We should be able to get volunteers to help with that."
St. Johns County is also considering a second vaccine location in the north part of the county.
"There are a couple of places [we're considering] in the Ponte Vedra area and a couple in the Julington Creek, northwest area," Conrad said. "Northwest and northeast are where we're looking at.".
On Tuesday, St. Johns County Commissioners approved spending up to $1 million to fund the initial COVID-19 vaccination program.
To date, St. Johns County, through the Florida Health Department, has received 3,800 doses. Flagler Hospital and private healthcare providers are also receiving vaccine doses to administer.
You now need to register to get a vaccine in St. Johns County. The county has set up a hotline: 904-295-3711 to help people register. You have to dial all ten digits.