Counties and cities have no direct role or authority in the vaccine decision-making process; however, Alachua County and our cities stand ready to assist in any way possible. Alachua County is working with our local health department and hospitals to assist in communicating the many variables in the Governor’s vaccine plan. In this effort, we are speaking to officials from the State Health Department in Alachua County and representatives from UF Health Shands and North Florida Regional Medical Center daily.
The following are frequently asked questions and answers from these conversations:
Question: Who is in charge of the vaccination process in Florida?
Answer: Governor DeSantis is in charge of the effort in Florida.
Q. Is there a priority list that determines who will get the vaccine and when?
A: The Governor’s Executive Order 23-315 states:
During this first phase of vaccine administration, all providers administering any COVID-19 vaccine shall only vaccinate the following populations:
- Long-term care facility residents and staff;
- Persons 65 years of age and older; and
- Health care personnel with direct patient contact.
Hospital providers, however, also may vaccinate persons who they deem to be extremely vulnerable to COVID-19.
Q: Who will receive vaccines for distribution?
A: The following agencies are in the distribution system:
- Statewide, hospitals will be receiving the largest number of vaccinations. UF Health Shands and North Florida Regional Medical Center hospitals will receive large numbers of the County’s vaccine allotment and be responsible for vaccinating their employees and extremely vulnerable patients with primary physicians within their systems. The hospitals will eventually play a role in vaccinations for those over 65 and the general public. These details are being developed.
- The Health Department will be responsible for vaccinating their employees, EMS and paramedic personal, residents of Tacachale Developmental Disability Center and residents 65 and older and the general public (with the assistance of hospitals).
- At the moment, CVS and Walgreens are currently responsible for vaccinating residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
Q: How many vaccine doses have been given so far?
A: To date, about 10,000 people have been vaccinated. These include healthcare workers, EMTs, and paramedics. As of today, the vaccine agencies in Alachua County have received approximately 20,000 vaccine doses.
Q: When do we expect to have the vaccine availability and rollout for the general public?
A: We do not know. This information should be coming soon. Part of the challenge is that the distributor who delivers the vaccines on behalf of the federal government to the states only provides delivery information seven days out. Currently, the State does not know what it will receive outside of that seven-day window.
Q. What is the difference between the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine? Is one safer? More effective?
A: They are nearly identical in efficacy. The best vaccine is the one you get in your arm the soonest.
Q. What is happening with the 65 and older registration list? When and how will those registered be notified?
A: Over 12,000 of the County’s approximately 40,000 residents 65 and older have registered. Over the coming weeks, they will be notified in various ways, including contacts by their primary care physicians, the Health Department, and notices of Community Clinics. All vaccinations will be by appointment to avoid long lines and dangerous congregations of at-risk people. We expect these appointments to begin very soon. It is our understanding that nursing home and assisted living resident vaccinations have begun. As soon as we have more details on this, we will notify the public.
Q. How long is the vaccine effective? Do we have to get it every year like the flu shot?
A. It is unknown if further vaccinations or “boosters” will be needed in the future.