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After rocky start, St. Johns County offers to help health department with vaccine distribution

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – The race to get a COVID-19 vaccine is causing a stir in St. Johns County.

On Thursday, a long line of cars was backed up near the St. Johns County Health Department as many waited for hours to get the vaccine.

After the issues, the St. Johns County Board of Commissioners sent a letter to department director Dr. Dawn Allicock following multiple meetings.

“Since the Department of Health began their vaccine program earlier this week, the Board of County Commissioners has been inundated with questions, concerns, and complaints regarding a lack of public information and program management,” the letter, obtained by News4Jax, reads in part. “As such, St. Johns County is once again requesting that the Department of Health in St. Johns County strongly reconsider and accept our offer of partnership.”

Chairman of the Board of Commissioners Jeremiah Blocker wrote that the commissioners wanted to see vaccine distribution expedited in the community and “it has become apparent to St. Johns County, and the public as a whole, that the Department of Health in St. Johns County requires additional assistance in order to complete this critical mass vaccination mission.”

The Florida Department of Health in St. Johns County vaccinated people 65 years old and above for COVID-19 on Thursday and the department is administrating vaccines again in the morning starting at 9.

Another crowd of people was in downtown St. Augustine on New Year’s Eve.

We just love it, it’s so pretty every year,” said Shelby Hancock.

There were a lot of people going in and out of restaurants and bars on Thursday night and looking at the beautiful lights, ready to ring in the new year.

New Year’s Eve 2020 in St. Augustine was slightly different this year with social distancing and no fireworks.

“It’s definitely different with everyone having to wear masks and everything, but you just have to live life and be safe and everything,” Hancock said.

Sinclair Cerber and his family traveled from Miami.

“We’ve seen a lot of people out here without their masks and we’re just keeping it moving,” said Cerber. “Staying outside so we can do our best to stay safe and after here we’re going to head back to the hotel and spend a quiet night in the hotel and stay safe with family.”

Earlier in the day, a large crowd of people hoped to start the new year with the COVID-19 vaccine.

“It tried my patience. That’s for sure. Two-and-a-half hours in the car plus,” said resident Michael Gurski.

To schedule a COVID-19 vaccination appointment in St. Johns County, visit stjohns.floridahealth.gov. For additional information regarding local vaccination operations, contact the Florida Department of Health in St. Johns County at 904-506-6081 or stjohnsfeedback@flhealth.gov. For additional information regarding the state’s vaccination plan, contact the Florida Department of Health at 866-779-6121 or covid-19@flhealth.gov.

At this point, the Florida Department of Health in St. Johns County are still in the first phase of vaccine distribution to the public, which includes:

  • Health care personnel with direct patient contact
  • Long-term care facility residents and staff
  • Persons 65 years of age and older

The county received 3,000 doses of the vaccine and began giving shots to St. Johns County Fire Rescue personnel on Wednesday.

The county said it will actively provide additional information as more vaccines become available and the state Department of Health’s vaccination plan progresses. Visit the St. Johns County COVID-19 vaccinations webpage at www.sjcfl.us/coronavirusvaccinations or text SJCVACCINE to 888777 to receive updates.


About the Authors:

Reports weeknights for The Ten O'Clock News and News4Jax at 11.

McLean is a reporter with WJXT, covering education and breaking news. He is a frequent contributor to the News4Jax I-team and Trust Index coverage.