More vaccine flows into the region

 A burst of doses into Franklin and Gulf counties, 500 as compared to 100, means the health department will continue to chip away at an enormous waiting list to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

“This week we received 500 first dose vaccines per county and we were thrilled, but this quantity isn’t guaranteed each week,” said Sarah Quaranta, administrator over the Florida Department of Health serving Franklin and Gulf counties.

“We receive notification of first dose shipments near the end of each week. Second doses are automatically shipped a week prior to administration to ensure successful arrival,” she said. “Vaccine inventory is going to vary each week, but our goal will always be to administer first dose vaccinations within the same week the shipment is received.

“We really appreciate everyone’s patience,” Quaranta said. “Any outside buildings used to administer vaccines will be considered closed point of distribution sites, meaning the folks receiving the vaccine are there by appointment only.

“We cannot accept walk-ups, not with a growing pre-registration list that is used to schedule these appointment slots,” she said.

Quaranta said the health department locally is not utilizing the statewide pre-registration system. “It has caused some confusion,” she said. “We are still using our locally-designed pre-registration list and are scheduling appointments in order from this list.

“Franklin and Gulf have over 5,000 folks registered on these lists,” she said, adding “Per county.”

The latest numbers indicate that Gulf residents have received 1,608 doses, and Franklin residents 1,354.

“We’re making progress!” said Quaranta.

She said the vaccines continue to be limited to persons age 65 or older. “Our vaccinations will be walk-up by appointment only. No drive-thru point of distribution events at this time. 

People must meet Florida residency requirements. She said all front line healthcare individuals who signed up for the vaccine have received it, and that hospitals primarily handled this project.

This article originally appeared on The Star: More vaccine flows into the region

Meet the Editor

Wendy Weitzel, The Star’s digital editor, joined the news outlet in August 2021, as a reporter covering primarily Gulf County.

Prior to then, she interned for Oklahoma-based news wire service Gaylord News and for Oklahoma City-based online newspaper during her four years at the University of Oklahoma, from which she graduated in May with degrees in online journalism and political science.

While at OU, Weitzel was selected as Carnegie-Knight News21 Investigative Fellow among 30 top journalism students from around the country. She also was senior editor managing a 12-person newsroom in coordination with Oklahoma Watch, a non-profit news organization in eastern Oklahoma.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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