Vaccine available to anyone 65+ starting Monday in Jacksonville

Qualifying patients can apply by phone starting Wednesday

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Anyone 65 years old and above and any health care worker who has not yet received the COVID-19 vaccine can receive their first dose of the vaccine starting Monday in Jacksonville, according to the Florida Department of Health in Duval County.

Dr. Pauline Rolle, the director of the FDOH-Duval, told The Morning Show on Wednesday that vaccines in the county are open to anyone, not just Duval County residents, although she is encouraging everyone to get vaccinated in their own county.

“This vaccine is not limited by boundaries. It’s provided by the federal government. We’re providing it for free and so with that, even if you’re not a Duval resident, you could still be vaccinated through us, but please keep in mind other counties will be rolling out their vaccination efforts, so we encourage people to get vaccinated in their own counties but certainly, we will service anyone from any county,” Rolle said.

Patients who meet either of the criteria to get a vaccine can call for an appointment, starting at 8 a.m. Wednesday. Calls for appointments can be made between 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each weekday other than New Year’s Eve and Day. Call 904-253-1140 for an appointment.

NOTE: Due to high demand, most callers Wednesday morning got a message that “your call could not be completed at this time” of a fast busy signal. Some calls that got the health department’s outgoing message then got a fast busy or the call abruptly ended. Officials urged patience and to keep trying:

“We are receiving a high volume of calls, so callers may not get through right away. We ask that callers bear with us as we try to get to every individual. Every appointment matters to us.”

RELATED: COVID-19 vaccine in Northeast Florida: What we know by county

The vaccines will be given at the Prime Osborn Convention Center, and 500 appointment slots are available on Monday. The department hopes to scale up to 1,000 appointments a day over time. The vaccines are free of charge and a second dose will be needed for it to be as effective as possible.

Before making an appointment, know that:

  • All individuals are required to wear a face mask at all times and practice social distancing during the appointment.
  • There are no restrooms available for use during the appointment.

When you call to make an appointment, you’ll have to provide your name, phone number and date of birth. Rolle said if you’re on medication, consult your physician before getting the vaccine.

Rolles said the department is hopeful that requiring appointments will limit wait times for those getting the vaccine shots.

Jacksonville firefighters, who began getting the vaccine last Thursday, will help give out the shots. Walk-ins will not be allowed.

The health department’s COVID-19 incident commander and registered nurse Tawanda Washington said the priority is to get people over the age of 65 vaccinated quickly.

“We want to start vaccinating as soon as possible, so we could see some of our 65 and older that live in the community getting vaccinated before the new year, even if they’re not in a long-term care facility,” Washington said.

Washington said that her team is working with local hospitals to give the shots out to medical care providers who are not affiliated with hospitals. That would include locally-run doctor’s offices and pharmacies.

Washington said the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office staff, private ambulance crews and jail inmates would be high on the list. She said the Duval County jail has a large population in a small area so it’s important to vaccinate there.

Rein Vandervelde, a home health care physical therapist, said the arrival of the vaccine is a moment he’s been waiting for.

“We deal with even with COVID patients who are not sick enough to go to the hospital but they are staying home and quarantine themselves,” Vandervelde said.

Vandervelde takes care of many patients at their homes, including 65-year-old Dana Parker, who has been diagnosed with complex regional pain syndrome.

“I would feel much better if I had (the) vaccine,” Parker said. “I’m not afraid of it. I’m more afraid without it.”

RELATED: Clay County begins taking appointments for vaccinations | St. Johns County to announce plan soon

Some who work in private health care, like Jacque Dennie, desperately want the vaccine and feel they’ve fallen through the cracks.

“I just really reached out to get answers for my nurses,” said Dennie of Fletcher’s Home Care. “They don’t work at the hospital. They don’t work at the nursing homes. And yet they take care of more than medically complex children in our area and they would like the vaccine as well.”

Some Central Florida senior citizens began receiving vaccines Tuesday. Seminole County became the first in the state when it began giving shots near the food court at the Oviedo Mall on Tuesday afternoon.

Seminole County Chairman Lee Constantine said. “It’s a very exciting day for all of us, and especially, and hopefully for our residents. It is also a great day for the state of Florida because again, starting now, One shot at a time we’re going to save lives.”

Front-line workers at local hospitals first began receiving their shots two weeks ago at UF Health Jacksonville, followed by other medical centers. CVS and Walgreen’s are currently working with the state to vaccinate staff and residents at long-term care facilities.

News4Jax is working to learn more about the appointments, availability and locations for vaccines in Jacksonville and neighboring counties. We will have details on locations and times and how to sign up as soon as they become available.

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