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St. Johns County receives 500 more doses of COVID-19 vaccine; appointments fill in minutes

COVID-19 vaccines are coming to certain Publix pharmacies in St. Johns and Flagler Counties.

An additional 500 doses of the coronavirus vaccine arrived in St. Johns County from the state of Florida and just 12 minutes after the county opened appointments Thursday morning, all the slots were taken.

Registration to get the vaccine on Friday opened at 9 a.m. Thursday and by 9:12 a.m., the county sent a text to its Vaccine Alerts line saying all appointments had been filled.

Additional appointments will become available as the county receives more vaccinations, the county said in a news release.

Last Thursday, appointments for that week’s allotment of vaccines were booked within an hour.

St. Johns County said Tuesday that it was in the process of calling those who received their initial dose from the Department of Health in St. Johns County to schedule an appointment for their second dose. All second doses will be administered by appointment only on Tuesdays, Thursdays or Saturdays at the Solomon Calhoun Community Center.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis also announced Wednesday that 14 Publix locations in St. Johns County, as well as four locations in Flagler County, will offer the COVID-19 vaccine by appointment. Click here for a full list of stores.

“We looked at counties that may be a little bit more medium-sized that have a lot of elderly people as a percentage,” DeSantis said.

Under the program, each participating Publix stores can vaccinate around 125 people per day. In order to make an appointment, you must be 65 or older and be a Florida resident. DeSantis said appointments would open Wednesday for shots beginning Thursday. Here’s the link to Publix appointment registration system.

On Wednesday evening, Publix posted on Facebook: “All available COVID-19 vaccine appointments at Publix Pharmacy Florida locations have been claimed. Additional appointments will be announced as we receive more inventory. Check www.publix.com/covid-vaccine for the latest information.”

RELATED: County-by-county plans to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine

Ahead of the governor’s announcement, the chairman of the St. Johns County Board of County Commissioners, Jeremiah Blocker, wrote a letter Tuesday to DeSantis, asking for more vaccine doses.

“While we have received an additional 500 doses of the vaccine, that supply will be utilized completely within one day and we will once again be unable to meet the high demand for vaccines that exists within our county,” Blocker wrote.

Blocker said the county received 3,800 doses of the vaccine so far and has 65,000 residents who are eligible to receive the vaccine under DeSantis’ current guidelines, according to the U.S. Census. He said the county is currently capable of providing up to 1,000 doses per day at one location and was prepared to add a second location if enough vaccine was available.

“Allow me to reiterate the urgency of the need for vaccinations and restate our request that the state of Florida release additional vaccines to St. Johns County on a more frequent basis and at higher dose allotment,” Blocker wrote.

Hugo Mickler, 83, lives in St. Johns County and told News4Jax he’s frustrated with vaccination efforts.

“I didn’t ever think I would ever see the day that we have such problems trying to stay alive. My 94-year-old aunt is in the hospital right now with COVID-19 in Saint Augustine,” he said Wednesday. “It concerns me to be healthy at my age, having to walk around and trying to, I don’t know. It is very depressing.

For updates regarding St. Johns County’s COVID-19 vaccination program, visit www.sjcfl.us/coronavirusvaccinations or text SJCVACCINE to 888777.

About the Authors:

Lifetime Jacksonville resident, journalist and experienced broadcast news producer with a passion for classic and exotic cars.