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Lee County to vaccinate 5,000 this week

By CJ Haddad - | Jan 3, 2021

Vaccination Site Location

Lee County officials on Sunday rolled out their COVID-19 vaccination plan for the coming week that includes a reservation system and a new site location.

There will be 5,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine available for residents 65 and older, as well as frontline health care workers, administered this Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

A toll-free number can be called to make appointments. Those eligible will be given their date and time.

The county will now use one centralized location to administer walk-up vaccines east of Interstate 75 off of Daniels Parkway. It’s the site of the old airport terminal parking lot. Message boards will direct traffic to Paul J. Doherty Parkway. Officials said individuals should show up 45 minutes before

their appointment time.

“We listened to your concerns, and we used your input to change our strategy,” said Department of Health – Lee County Administrator Angela Smith from the county’s Emergency Operations Center Sunday afternoon.

The number, 833-618-2001, will go live Monday from noon until 8 p.m. The TTY (Telecommunications Device for the Deaf) number, specifically for those callers, is 787-522-5904. The lines, provided by a state-hired vendor, will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. the remainder of the week until all 5,000 slots have been filled, officials said.

Immunizations will be given on Tuesday (1,000) from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday (2,000 each day).

Officials said they made these changes over the New Year holiday break and realized the first round of vaccinations could have been better handled.

“Our process last week was not what it needed to be,” Smith said. “The demand from our 65 and older community quickly exceeded our expectations and planning efforts. With our intention to get as many shots in arms as quickly as we could, initially we thought handling (by) first-come-first-serve was the quickest way. But we cannot call the long lines, the overnight waits and the perceived lack of planning a success.

“We didn’t anticipate how many residents would want to be first in line for the Moderna vaccine. It quickly became apparent that we neededVaccination Site Location With U-turnVaccination Site Location With U-turn

additional help and support from our partners.”

Smith said the county has received 12,000 COVID-19 vaccinations with 6,140 having been administered since Dec. 28 as of Sunday afternoon. Smith said the county provided the first dose of the Moderna vaccine to 5,800 individuals last week.

Appointments can only be made by calling the toll-free number, and not online. Officials said a website format was looked into, but concerns about the site crashing led to their current implementation.

Smith said more appointments would become available as more inoculations arrive.

“As soon as doses are received by the Department of Health, additional schedule slots will be released,” she said Sunday.

When it comes to getting residents their second dose, Smith said they are awaiting guidance from the federal level, as the program in federally run.

“The instruction that we’ve been given is that we were not to hold back first doses – that the second doses were being held at the federal level to be deployed equitably in accordance with the allocation strategy for the first dose,” Smith said. County officials said those with reservations can expedite the process by visiting www.leegov.com/vaccine to read the Moderna vaccination information and to print and complete the consent form. Proper identification will be required at the vaccination site.

-Connect with this reporter on Twitter: @haddad_cj