JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – According to a health department manager, some Duval County residents could start vaccinating against COVID-19 as early as this week.
The news comes that local medical workers, fire fighters and residents of long-term care facilities continue to receive their vaccinations.
Voluntary vaccinations for Jacksonville fire and rescue workers began last week and continued at the Prime Osborne Convention Center in downtown Jacksonville on Monday. Some hospitals started vaccinating their frontline staff two weeks ago.
Tawanda Washington, RN, COVID-19 commander for the Florida Department of Health in Duval County, said some JFRD members would help health department workers dispense vaccines as early as Tuesday. A major focus will be on people aged 65 and over in the general population – including people who are not in assisted living facilities or nursing homes.
James Jaffa, 77, of Mandarin, reached out to News4Jax because he wanted the vaccine. He said he lost about six friends to the virus but had no idea when or where to get the shot.
“Right now, I’m very scared of going out of the house,” he said. “I went out, but my family doesn’t want me to go anywhere.”
He contacted the I-TEAM after receiving no responses from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Health Department, the hospitals, or his doctor.
“I thought I was next in line, but it’s much further down if you do some math,” he said. “It’s getting a little scary.”
“It is a personal choice whether or not to get vaccinated,” noted Washington. “Across the state, we’ve seen about 60 to 65% of our responders actually asking for the vaccine.”
She said vaccinated first responders would help those in the public who are next in line for the recordings, which may be available “this week”.
“We’re working through this week,” she said. “We want to start vaccinating as soon as possible so we can see that some of our 65-year-olds and older who live in the community will be vaccinated before the New Year.”
Washington said the police working at local medical clinics, private ambulance staff and those in jail, which is one of the city’s most crowded populations, are also high on the list.
She said a detailed schedule would be released soon, detailing who is eligible, where to take pictures and who is next. She said it is important that not everyone rush to get a vaccination right away so that a tiered system in community clinics can help.
Vaccines are offered free of charge.
Washington said it was not aware of any serious side effects from Duval County recipients.
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