APOLLO BEACH, Fla. - Winn-Dixie and a few other grocery store chains officially joined the fight against COVID-19 Thursday, administering their first vaccinations.
The Apollo Beach Winn-Dixie began giving eligible seniors and other at-risk individuals the shot after the supermarket chain's parent company, Southeastern Grocers, received about 8,100 Moderna vaccines as part of the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program.
The vaccines went to 43 stores in 29 counties throughout the state of Florida, including five Winn-Dixie stores and one Fresco y Más in the Tampa Bay area.
"I believe it took us about 20 minutes for this particular store for all the spots to be gone, so there is certainly a high demand," said Keith Newberry, Winn Dixie's district manager, adding the CDC helped determine which stores would be the first to offer vaccines.
The grocery chain will initially offer the vaccines to health care workers, residents and staff of long-term care facilities, and adults ages 65 and older in accordance with Florida health authority guidelines, while supplies last.
People who qualify can visit Frescoymas.com, HarveySupermarkets.com, and WinnDixie.com, for updates including vaccine availability details, participating store locations, and to conveniently schedule an appointment online, when available.
The vaccines are free, with or without health insurance. People with health insurance must provide their health insurance card during their scheduled appointment, and people without insurance will need to present a valid driver’s license or social security card.
Speaking with reporters on Wednesday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis stressed the importance of raising vaccination rates in Florida's seniors.
"What we look at is, OK, how many seniors are getting shots in each county? What percentages of seniors are getting shots in each county?" he asked. "There are some counties that have a lot of seniors that have gotten the shot, but they have a lot of seniors, where the percentage is a little lower."
As further vaccine allocation continues to be determined and prioritized by the state of Florida, Winn Dixie's parent company said it has robust plans in place to administer additional free vaccines directly to the front line at all in-store pharmacies.
"In the coming months, the grocer will also provide additional COVID-19 vaccines at pharmacy locations," SE Grocers announced in a news release, "and will coordinate future drive-thru clinics to administer free COVID-19 vaccines in additional underserved communities as availability expands."
In Florida, 119 Walmart stores will begin vaccinations Friday. The number of Publix grocery stores offering shots nearly doubled this week to almost 600.
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@example.com. Email responses will be sent during call center hours.
CORONAVIRUS IN FLORIDA: What you need to know
AROUND THE WORLD: CoronavirusNOW.com
Map of known COVID-19 cases:
MOBILE APP USERS: Click here for map