Pinellas County set to begin COVID-19 vaccinations in nursing homes

Florida’s nursing homes were some of the first in the country to get the COVID-19 vaccine Wednesday, with at least a dozen visited in Pinellas County.

The Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County offered nearly 2,000 Pfizer vaccines to long-term care facilities Wednesday out of their stock of about 10,700 doses.

“We're visiting 13 facilities today. Our goal was to offer over 1900 vaccines,” said Dr. Ulyee Choe, the director at FDOH in Pinellas County.

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Carrington Place in St. Petersburg was among the first places offered the shot to those who wanted one.

“I know in some of the facilities the uptake in those that had the consent signed ranged from somewhere over 50 percent to over 80 percent,” said Choe.

The state ordered two more shipments for this month, but Tuesday, Governor Ron DeSantis announced a delay because of production issues. He updated that progress on Wednesday during an event at a long-term care facility in Pompano Beach.

“They’ve actually populated a shipment for next week. We don’t think it’s going to be quite 200,000, but we’re encouraged by that. I don’t want to say that’s going to be final until we actually get the order,” said DeSantis.

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Dr. Choe said all of the doses that Pinellas County has right now are the first round of the two-dose Pfizer vaccine. Health officials said they are confident the second round will make it within the required timeframe.

“There is a little flexibility within that 21 days. It ranges from 19 to 23 days, and we will be working with partners to ensure that everyone gets their second dose,” said Choe.

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The Pinellas County health department plans to continue vaccinating nursing home residents and staff who want the shot for the rest of this week, aiming to visit all 68 facilities in five days.

CVS and Walgreens are expected to start making their way into nursing homes on Monday.

If you feel sick:

The Florida Department of Health has opened a COVID-19 Call Center at 1-866-779-6121. Agents will answer questions around the clock. Questions may also be emailed to Email responses will be sent during call center hours.

LINK: Florida's COVID-19 website

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