Sorting out confusion at senior centers after first dose vaccines run out

State-run Prime Osborn site also closes to first dose vaccines after Friday

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – After demand for vaccines at Jacksonville’s two senior center sites increased sharply Thursday afternoon, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry announced Thursday evening that the city’s supply for first doses had been exhausted.

But a line of frustrated seniors outside the Mandarin Senior Center on Friday morning said they didn’t get the updated message.

Many held a printed press release from the city that had gone out earlier in the day Thursday, saying the site would be open for first doses until 6 p.m. Friday.

But after sending that release, which included dropping the birth month requirement for vaccines on Thursday, the city learned later in the day that demand had spiked at the senior centers and all the first doses available from the city’s allotment had been given out.

The mayor Tweeted the updated information, which was reported by local media outlets, but the seniors who showed up Friday morning say they never saw the new information and were frustrated and disappointed.

Tina Alves couldn’t get vaccinated Friday.

“This is ridiculous. I’ve been trying to get mine for two weeks,” said Tina Alves. “My husband got his vaccine yesterday and they told him I could come today. They are telling me they don’t have any vaccine -- that they got shut down yesterday. This is like a game. This is not good. This place is not working.”

The city acknowledged that an updated press release was not sent out through the same email list chain Thursday, although the media were given the updated information to report. The city did send the release via email on Friday.

If you received your first dose of the Pfizer vaccine at one of the senior centers, you will be able to receive your second dose at that same location 21 days later. Otherwise, both senior center sites are now closed to new patients.

The city says the second doses will begin Jan. 29. The city has reserved enough vaccines to cover all of the second doses.

Seniors must go to the same senior center where they received the first vaccine to get their second dose. When they got their first dose, seniors were able to choose text or email for reminders. The city asked that you watch for those and come back for your second dose as directed.

Curry announced Thursday morning that the city was waiving the birth month requirement. Anyone age 65 and older, frontline health care workers and first responders could try to get one of the first-come, first-served vaccines from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday before the supply of first doses ran out.

The city only received 11,000 doses of the vaccine designated for the two sites at the Mandarin Senior Center and at the Lane Wiley Senior Center site on the Westside. The city was able to give a limited number of shots each day, around 1,700, and hit its goal each day.

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

Tony Labello said he was disappointed not to be able to get vaccinated at the senior center Friday.

“I tried at Publix. I stayed on the computer for two hours. Never got a response. It said to wait, and all the availabilities were taken. I don’t know how to get it. I’m 84 years old, and I need to get it,” Labello said.

The city told News4Jax that it would be working to continue the senior site vaccinations in the future in some form, but the state is limiting where the vaccines can go, and the senior centers are not on the list. Curry is not giving up hope of being able to secure more vaccines for the city.

For now, the state of Florida is taking over vaccine distribution in the city. The new vaccination site is at the Regency Square Mall. Call 1-866-200-3762 to make an appointment at that site.

Prime Osborn closes for first doses

At the Prime Osborn Convention Center, where the state has been administering vaccines for weeks, patients were relieved Friday that they were able to get vaccinated with their first dose -- despite having to stand in the rain while they were waiting.

“It only took 10 minutes to get the actual vaccine and then the 15 minutes that you have to wait,” said Karen Stacey, whose mother was vaccinated Friday. “I know a lot of people have been having problems (getting appointments), but I didn’t have any problems. I was able to get an appointment in 5 minutes.”

The site is closing to first doses at the end of the day Friday and operations are moving to the Regency Square Mall.

Catherine Stark joined those in line at the convention center Friday to be one of the last groups to get the first shot of the vaccine at the site.

“I feel very fortunate to be honest with you,” Stark said. “I’ve been a medical provider for over 35 years in the dental field and we’re digging in COVID fields every day, so yes sir, I feel very fortunate.”

Second dose shots will be given at the Prime Osborn starting Monday.

The vaccine given at the Prime Osborn was the Moderna vaccine, which requires patients to wait 28 days before receiving a second dose. The vaccine given at the city’s senior center sites was the Pfizer vaccine, which requires a second dose 21 days after the first.

Health officials say the vaccines should not be mixed and matched and that all patients should get two doses of the same vaccine.

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