With the first two COVID-19 vaccine appointment days filled to capacity already, the Jackson County Health Department is setting no more of those appointments immediately.
Instead, in partnership with Jackson Hospital, the health department is offering a six-hour en masse vaccine day for Jackson County residents age 65 or older.
The event will be 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 13, at the Jackson County Agriculture Center at 3631 Highway 90, west of the Marianna city limits.
You don’t need to make an appointment for that day’s event but should be 65 or older, a county resident, and should not have had any type of vaccination for the past 14 days.
Information about the vaccine will be provided at the distribution point.
Local health officials said the by-appointment plan that had been announced last week is suspended for now but that appointments made so far will be honored either by giving the scheduled shots on Monday or Wednesday of this week as planned, or by redirecting some of those who called to go to the mass vaccination on Jan. 13, instead, in order to empty out the backlog of requests for vaccines.
Jackson County Health Department official Sandy Martin said that medical first responders have also been offered the vaccine, but that otherwise the focus is on people 65 or older, as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has directed. She said the vast majority of people requesting the vaccine locally so far have been of that target age or beyond it.
After the Jan. 13 vaccination day, she said, local officials will reassess the remaining need and determine whether another such day should be scheduled, and whether the department will immediately resume taking appointments or find other/additional approaches to distributing the vaccine.
Administering the vaccine en masse, she said, is far more efficient that trying to give the doses at department headquarters when staffers are busy handling many other types of health-related issues in day-to-day operations. Staff might be able to do about 150 vaccinations there in the normal course of a business day; out at the ag center, with help from Jackson Hospital and its share of vaccine, as many as 1,000 people could be vaccinated, Martin said.
Another reason for suspending by-appointment distribution for now, she said, is that there’s the possibility that more appointments might be requested than the amount of vaccine immediately on hand. Martin stressed that the county will ultimately have enough to go around but is trying to avoid setting appointments that might then have to be delayed because the supply stream hasn’t caught up.
The doses are sent in batches, with the first one received last week containing 800. Another shipment was expected early this week, and that once-a-week schedule appears to be the trend but is not absolutely certain.
Other health care facilities that receive a supply of the vaccine are invited to join the health department and Jackson Hospital on Jan. 13, she added.
She said that, when the department said everyone could call to request an appointment, one goal was to get people on a list in order to gauge the interest in the community.
The people who called and left their information in seeking an appointment, and were under the age of 65, she said, were called back and told they’ll have to wait until their allotted phase of distribution.
The Moderna vaccine available here is administered in two doses, about a month apart.
As for long-term care facility residents and staff, Martin said those individuals are being vaccinated through a federal pact with CVS and Walgreens, and that some of the local facilities have already begun their administration of the vaccine.