Seniors in Jacksonville wait hours for deadline COVID-19 vaccinations

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – People showed up at two Jacksonville senior centers on Monday before dawn, hoping to be among the first 65-year-old and older Duval County’s residents to receive a COVID-19 vaccine not by appointment but after their month of birth.

People lined up at 5 a.m. at Lane Wiley Senior Center on Westside and the Mandarin Senior Center. At 8 a.m., dozens of people stood together, some with chairs and reading materials. When the doors of the centers opened at 11am

A man named Robert was one of approximately 475 people who received a vaccine at the Lane Wiley Center on Monday.

“It was such a mess getting the vaccine. It’s hard to get appointments. It’s like winning the lottery and that’s why I decided to start early, ”he told News4Jax while waiting in line. “Even though they don’t get to it until 11 am, I’ve decided to come here early.”

Since only people with birthdays in January and February are eligible on Monday, some people who showed up early on the first day were turned away before the doors even opened. Most who made it through the line said it was worth the wait.

“It was really smooth. I’ll be here at 7:45 a.m. I was the 95th person and I told the Lord here that we remember doing this as children when the polio crisis came out, ”said Edwin Pompey. “We are old. We want to see our families or children or grandchildren again. It’s just one thing to keep everyone safe. “

Others were concerned about the length of the line.

“I’m 72 years old (and) pretty fit. I brought a chair and that was fine, but also a chair that sat down and stood up, ”said Connie Rennie. “There were other people who were much worse off than me, who lay down on the cold concrete at 6 a.m.”

Several people told News4Jax that there had to be a better way. One suggested giving the shots to seniors in their cars, just as the seniors center is serving lunches during COVID-19. Another thinks the recordings should be made in a location with more space and seating.

“Something has to be done,” said Jim Greathead. “You could think of a better place for it. More open. A place where everyone could take a seat and move on. I’ve seen several people almost fall, including myself. “

Chris Miller said parking was messy but the vaccine went smoothly.

“Once you get up here and get in line and know how they do it, the room they do it in, they do a great job,” Miller said.

The city said they study as they go. As of Tuesday, nobody is allowed to queue before 10 a.m. – one hour before the doors open. People get a ticket and are supposed to come back later in the day.

Mayor Lenny Curry tweeted on Monday evening: “We have reached our quota of 975 today and plan to do the same tomorrow.” The parking lots will open on Tuesday at 10am.

Thank you to everyone who made our first day of giving COVID-19 vaccines a success. We reached our allotment of 975 today and plan to do the same tomorrow. Parking spaces will be open tomorrow at 10 a.m. for those over 65 born in March and April, or for first aiders and healthcare workers

– Lenny Curry (@lennycurry) January 12, 2021

While vaccinations are given based on availability (no appointment required), eligible residents should only visit a vaccination center on the day associated with their month of birth based on the following schedule:

  • Monday – January and February
  • Tuesday – March and April
  • Wednesday – May and June
  • Thursday – July and August
  • Friday – September and October
  • Saturday – November and December

These two vaccination centers are open Monday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., although the line is interrupted at 6 p.m. or if they run out of day allocation:

  • Mandarin Senior Center, 3848 Hartley Road
  • Lane Wiley Elderly Center, 6710 Wiley Road

Cards from two senior centers that offer COVID-19 vaccines. (City of Jacksonville)

All patients must present photo identification showing their date of birth and proof of residence in Duval County. First aiders and healthcare workers should also bring ID cards.

Toilets in the senior centers are available after the building opens for the day.

After receiving the vaccine, patients must remain on-site for at least 15 minutes to be monitored for possible reactions by health and emergency professionals. Because of their medical history, some people may have to wait 30 minutes. While allergic reactions to the COVID-19 vaccine are rare, the city said, this safety measure has been taken out of caution. Patients can choose to receive email and text reminders about their second dose.

To support a safe and organized vaccination process, patients must adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Masks must always be worn.
  • The requirements for physical distancing must be complied with at all times.
  • People who feel sick shouldn’t go to a vaccination center.
  • Only caretakers are allowed to accompany patients who need help at a vaccination site.
  • Patients must park in the designated parking spaces. Patients cannot be discontinued.
  • Parking and waiting in line overnight is not permitted.
  • Patients should follow traffic patterns and directions from traffic monitors (a map can be found at JaxReady.com/Virus?).

Patients should print out a completed DOH vaccine screening and consent form and bring it to the vaccination site. The form is available at COJ.net/CovidVaccineForm.

Between the two locations, the city hopes to vaccinate nearly 1,000 people a day with the Pfizer vaccine – Mandarin will provide 500 vaccines per day, while Lane Wiley says up to 475 vaccines will be distributed in Lane Wiley. When the daily supply is depleted, remaining patients have the option to return on their assigned day the following week or to schedule an appointment with the Florida Department of Health for the Prime Osborn location.

Vaccinations are still being done by appointment at the Prime Osborn Convention Center, but demand for appointments has exceeded supply – which is likely to continue in the near future. In response, the city announced last week that it would be moving senior centers in Mandarin and on the West Side from COVID-19 testing sites to locations where the vaccine will be obtained.

Slowly but surely, vaccine distribution plans are expanding to various locations in the city and state as the supply expands.

“If you look this week, we’re getting 50,000 to 60,000 pictures in the state of Florida,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “We’ll do a lot more when we get more vaccines.”

Even as more vaccines become available, doctors in the area say this process needs to be better organized.

“There is no coordinated plan to prioritize vaccination for 800,000 people and there is no justice in the system,” said Dr. Jeffery Goldhagen, head of community pediatrics at UF Health.

Prime Osborn is still just one appointment, but doctors say these three locations and hospitals won’t be enough.

“The idea that we will rely on them to carry out our vaccination campaign is simply not a viable plan to vaccinate more than 800,000 people and to do so fairly,” Goldhagen said.

Goldhagen said there should be plans in place for elementary schools, health, community and emergency operation centers to prepare for distribution of the vaccine as soon as the supply becomes available.

“In minority and low-income communities, we have pharmacy deserts in the same context as in a food desert,” he said.

Pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens may have sales plans soon, while DeSantis said announcements regarding sales at Publix locations should come soon.

The Duval County’s Department of Health began administering Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine to people 65 and older, as well as to health care workers who were able to schedule an appointment, on Jan. 4.

Every Thursday at 5 p.m., new dates for the COVID-19 vaccine are added via the online system, the health department said. On Thursday, more than 400,000 people tried to go online to book the new appointments and the website temporarily crashed. All appointments were booked within an hour.

The health department said the link will change every week and will be posted on the alert page on the health department’s website: duval.floridahealth.gov.

Citizens can visit JaxReady.com/Virus or call 630-CITY (2489) to connect to a customer service representative with questions.

Copyright 2021 by WJXT News4Jax – All rights reserved.

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