Lee County officials answer your COVID-19 vaccine rollout questions

Writer: Derrick Shaw
Published: Updated:
Credit: AP Photo/David Goldman, File

WINK News has received dozens of questions from viewers about Lee County’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout, so we took them to the county.

UPDATE: Since this story was first published, the county has announced all upcoming vaccinations will be by appointment only.

Why is there not a reservation system in place and why do other counties have that figured out?

Lee County’s Innovation & Technology (IT) Division is evaluating tech options. Lee County has a sizable population of 65 and older residents, which is different from a number of smaller Florida counties that have launched reservation systems. The county’s IT Division is being methodical so as to ensure that should a reservation system be launched, it would be able to handle the anticipated call load and remain robust for the duration of this event.

At this time, all vaccine sites are on a first-come, first-serve basis. This is to allow as many people as possible to get the vaccine and appointments to not be filled by no-shows or people booking appointments at multiple vaccine sites.

Some viewers are telling us they go to a site, see 400 people in line and then go home only later to find out that the number of vaccines at the site is more than 400. What should people be doing?

The state Department of Health determines in real-time the number of vaccines that will be issued at a site. DOH uses a number system for those queued up in line. Law enforcement and other officials on-site will communicate with those in line once all the numbers representing available doses have been given out. You can tell WINK viewers to remain in line until they hear from officials. They can also monitor DOH’s Twitter or Lee County Government social media channels.

What are the hours of operation for the 2-1-1 line?

The line is staffed 24/7 and will remain so over the holiday. Please remind WINK viewers that there are no local DOH vaccination clinics planned again until next week, and that schedule has not yet been announced.

What is the call volume like?

Since the vaccination sites have opened, the United Way 211 line has received more than 3,000 calls. Of those, 1,428 were related to COVID-19. Overnight from Monday into Tuesday, the 211 call center took 40 overnight calls. This is a higher than usual number.

How is the county working to reach people with limited transportation?

LeeTran is leveraging its resources through its Passport program. The LeeTran Passport program is for pre-registered, ADA- and transportation-disadvantaged passengers. LeeTran is coordinating with the state Department of Health to meet this need in the coming weeks.

What is the discussion for bringing the vaccine to people who live in senior communities?

As vaccine supplies increase, DOH will definitely explore visiting seniors in their communities. At this time, the supply chain doesn’t permit this.

What plans are in place should someone have a bad reaction to the vaccine?

All DOH clinicians are equipped with anaphylaxis kits onsite to address any adverse reactions. EMTs and paramedics are also on site. DOH is also using the CDC v-safe website.

What has been the discussion about drive-thru vaccinations? They are doing it in other Florida counties and it has the added benefit of allowing people to social distance.

DOH has stated that logistically, drive-thru sites require double staffing, and there are additional safety concerns for residents as well as staff. At this time, DOH-Lee is considering all future options.

How do those who received the first vaccine dose go about getting their second dose?

The FDOH is giving each person a card that shows their vaccination date, as well as information on when to return for the second dose, typically in 28 days. (The Moderna vaccine being given to the public in Lee County requires two doses to be effective.) The county is currently working on plans as to how people will receive their second dose, but say it will likely be first-come, first-serve, as the first dose was. Health officials say that any northerners who receive their first dose in Lee County should remain in the county to receive their second dose, as there is no guarantee you can receive your second dose once you return to your home state and the second dose must be by the same manufacturer. They ask if you can’t or won’t be in Lee County 28 days after your first dose that you forego receiving your vaccine at this time. You can also download the CDC’s v-safe app, which will remind you when it’s time for your second dose.

If you have questions for Lee County officials or health officials, email them to tips@winknews.com.

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