COVID vaccine: St. Lucie County offers online scheduling, waitlist for seniors 65+
Seniors ages 65 and older in St. Lucie County may now book appointments to receive the COVID-19 vaccine online and sign up for a waitlist as bookings for the limited supply inevitably fill, the Florida Department of Health announced Friday.
St. Lucie residents may register via the “Events” page at stlucie.floridahealth.gov. When appointments are unavailable, a waitlist will open. Those with questions should call 772-446-8480.
The Alert St. Lucie (stlucieco.gov/alert) emergency notification system will alert all subscribers when vaccines become available, even if they are not on a waitlist.
The county’s first mass vaccination for seniors is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Jan. 11-13, but the drive-thru event at the fairgrounds likely will fill quickly, county officials said.
“We know current supplies are not enough,” Clint Sperber, head of the state health department office in St. Lucie, said at a Friday briefing. “Please be patient as more vaccines arrive into the state and, eventually, into St. Lucie County.”
As Florida receives vaccines from manufacturers, 80% of doses go to hospitals and 20% go to local health departments and long-term care facilities, Sperber said, in accordance with an executive order by Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Last week, the St. Lucie office received 3,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine, Sperber said. About 1,300 of those were distributed among community partners, including:
- Florida Community Health Centers
- Midway Specialty Care Center
- St. Lucie County Fire District
- Whole Family Health Center
Remaining Moderna doses will be given only to health care workers at a first come, first-served clinic Saturday.
The St. Lucie office acquired over 12,000 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine this week, Sperber said, the bulk of which will be distributed at next week’s senior clinic.
Sperber thanked the Indian River State College nursing program and Florida State University College of Medicine for their partnership in the county’s vaccination efforts.
Vaccinations in St. Lucie County previously had been focused on health care personnel in direct contact with patients, and staff and residents of long-term care facilities.
Cleveland Clinic Tradition Hospital in Port St. Lucie is the only county hospital administering shots to seniors.
HCA Healthcare-owned St. Lucie Medical Center in Port St. Lucie and Lawnwood Regional Medical Center and Heart Institute in Fort Pierce have inoculated medical staff, but not members of the public.
Martin planned to administer about 800 doses at a Stuart clinic this week, spokesperson Renay Rouse said Monday. Indian River planned to inoculate 1,300 seniors through Friday at the county fairgrounds in Vero Beach, spokesperson Stacy Brock said.
Florida health department vaccination clinics in Martin and Indian River haven’t turned away patients who live in other areas. Still, St. Lucie County residents have been frustrated by the lack of vaccine availability closer to home.
“My wife is 93 and I’m 95,” said Frank Tubeck, of Fort Pierce. “I’m a veteran with [a] service-connected disability, and I can’t find out anything about when and if I’m going to get a vaccination.”
In addition to a lack of information from the county, Tubeck said, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has been less than helpful. Neither Tubeck nor his wife drives, but that’s not stopping the nonagenarians from seeking vaccinations outside St. Lucie.
“We have to get a driver, but we’ll make arrangements,” Tubeck said. “If I can get an appointment … Indian River would be fine if I could get there.”
Elsewhere in Fort Pierce, Cliff Clonan, 68, was just as frustrated Friday morning. The Indian River County Fairgrounds clinic, which the governor visited Thursday, seemed to be running smoothly, he said.
“We’re just not having that kind of cooperation and luck here in St. Lucie County,” he said. “We’re having a terrible time being able to get the vaccine. It’s just crazy.”
By late Friday afternoon, Clonan said he finally was able to reserve a vaccination appointment through the health department’s St. Lucie office next week.
Through Thursday, over 4,100 St. Lucie residents had been inoculated, more than any other Treasure Coast county. Yet its inoculations per 100,000 residents ranked lowest.
Since Christmas, the area’s most populous county has seen new daily COVID-19 cases exceed 200 on four days, and over 300 one day.
► Online registration: Cleveland Clinic vaccine appointments full
Nearly 1,100 St. Lucie residents have been hospitalized with the virus since March 2020, and its hospital bed capacity consistently has been below that of Martin and Indian River.
“We are, by far, seeing the highest number of cases that we have seen since the start of this pandemic,” County Administrator Howard Tipton said Friday. “We’re all anxious to see the vaccine rollout. … However, we have to remember that this battle with the virus is still going on. It is still in front of us, and will be for several months yet to come.”
Lindsey Leake is TCPalm’s explanatory and health reporter. She has a master’s in journalism and digital storytelling from American University and a bachelor’s from Princeton. Follow her on Twitter @NewsyLindsey, Facebook @LindseyMLeake and Instagram @newsylindsey. Call her at 772-529-5378 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Article Link