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Jacksonville to open 2-day vaccine site at Northside senior center

Mayor, City Council members unveil plan to get COVID-19 vaccines into underserved neighborhood

VIDEO: Jacksonville will be opening another COVID-19 vaccination site at a senior center -- this time in one of the city’s underserved neighborhoods.
VIDEO: Jacksonville will be opening another COVID-19 vaccination site at a senior center -- this time in one of the city’s underserved neighborhoods.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville will be opening another COVID-19 vaccination site at a senior center -- this time in one of the city’s underserved neighborhoods.

Mayor Lenny Curry said Thursday that he heard the pleas from City Council members to get COVID-19 vaccines into underserved communities in Jacksonville and was ready to respond when the city learned a few days ago that it would be getting another allotment of Pfizer vaccine.

“When we are given the resources and opportunity, the city of Jacksonville is able to quickly and efficiently stand-up operations to safely get this life-saving vaccine to the public,” Curry said. “If and when more vaccines become available, we will be ready to open additional sites in other areas of the community.”

He said the latest allotment is enough to give 975 patients both their first and second doses of the vaccine.

The doses will be distributed Friday and Saturday this week -- from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days -- at the Clanzel T. Brown Senior Center at 4575 Moncrief Road on the Northside.

“By locating a site here in Northwest Jacksonville, we are leveraging the limited allotment we have in a way that has the biggest impact,” Curry said.

Jacksonville will be opening another COVID-19 vaccination site at a senior center -- this time in one of the city’s underserved neighborhoods.
Jacksonville will be opening another COVID-19 vaccination site at a senior center -- this time in one of the city’s underserved neighborhoods.

The vaccines are still limited to those age 65 and older, frontline medical workers and first responders.

While not limiting the new vaccine sites to people living in a particular neighborhood, Curry is hoping people will respect that this community is in dire need of it.

The city will administer 500 doses on Friday and 475 doses on Saturday.

“While we’re happy to have received this allotment, we need more to truly mitigate risks and protect the health and safety of our community,” Curry said, adding that he’ll keep working with state and federal officials to try to secure more vaccine for the city. “As I’ve said before, we don’t control the supply chain, but we’ve made it clear to those who do that we stand ready to jump to action when supplies are available, just as we’re doing today.”

City Councilman Reggie Gaffney said he appreciated the mayor and Charles Moreland, director of community and international affairs for the city, following through after a group of council members approached them about finding an opportunity to get COVID-19 vaccines into the underserved area of the Northside.

“I want to thank both of y’all for hearing our cries. That’s why we’re here today,” Gaffney said. “This is just the beginning.”

Curry also thanked the council members who spoke up for their underserved communities for “always making sure your constituents’ voices are heard.”

“People need to know that you’re looking out for them and you’re always advocating for them,” Curry said.

During the announcement, the mayor and City Council members were asked about the skepticism some have about getting the vaccine. Councilman Sam Newby spoke up and urged all of those who can to get vaccinated. He was one of the first high-profile people in Jacksonville to come down with COVID-19 and said he nearly died

“You don’t want to be in the situation I was (where) I’m telling my wife that I’m not going to make it, (to) get the insurance policy out because this is a deadly, deadly disease,” Newby said.

Newby said the vaccinations the city is offering at the Northside center aren’t enough on their own but they are a good start.

Watch the full news conference announcement below:

Mayor Lenny Curry, City Council members announce senior center will offer COVID-19 vaccines for two days this week.
Mayor Lenny Curry, City Council members announce senior center will offer COVID-19 vaccines for two days this week.

Requirements

No appointments are necessary for vaccinations at the Brown Senior Center, but to avoid large crowds and to promote social distancing, eligible patients should only visit the vaccination site on the day associated with their birth month:

  • Friday: Birthdays in January through June
  • Saturday: Birthday in July through December

All patients must provide a photo ID that shows their birthdate, while first responders and health care workers should also bring an employee badge.

For convenience, patients will be offered a voucher that allows them to return to the site the same day to receive the vaccine.

While the Department of Health’s Vaccine Screening and Consent Form will be at the site, patients are encouraged to print and bring a completed form to reduce their wait time. The form is available at COJ.net/CovidVaccineForm.

To facilitate a safe and organized vaccination process, patients must adhere to the following rules:

  • A mask must be worn at all times.
  • Physical distancing requirements must be followed at all times.
  • Individuals who are feeling sick should not go to a vaccination site.
  • Patients should be in line no earlier than 8 a.m. and no later than 4 p.m.
  • Only caretakers may accompany patients who require assistance to the vaccination site.
  • Patients must park in the designated parking areas; patients cannot be dropped off at the line.
  • Parking and waiting in line overnight will not be permitted.

After receiving the vaccine, patients must stay on site for at least 15 minutes to be monitored for potential reactions by healthcare and emergency professionals. Based on medical history, some individuals may be required to wait 30 minutes. While allergic reactions to the COVID-19 vaccine are rare, this safety measure is in place out of an abundance of caution.

Patients must return to Clanzel T. Brown Senior Center 21 days after the first shot to receive the second dose. Reminders about the follow-up appointment will be provided via phone call and text message.

Transportation

JTA said it has direct service to the Clanzel Brown Community Center via Route 3 – Moncrief.

It also provides direct service through its Northside ReadiRide Zone and a new Northwest Core ReadiRide Zone established to service the area.

JTA offers FREE rides to those who are going to get a vaccine (seniors 65+).

For ReadiRide reservations:

- Customers should arrange a ride at least 24 hours in advance by calling (904) 679-4555.

- Seniors just need to show their ID to the driver to ride FREE (available for both bus and ReadiRide services).

More information on all JTA efforts for vaccinations can be found at health.jtafla.com.

The AME Minister’s Alliance is also offering free transportation Friday and Saturday to those who need to get to the center for a vaccine.

Those who need a ride can call them at 904-739-7500.

Testing moving

Because of the vaccination operation, Agape Health, a city-contracted COVID-19 testing provider that normally operates out of the senior center, will temporarily move testing to the following locations:

  • AGAPE Dunn - 1680 Dunn Ave. – 32218
  • AGAPE Blanding - 5460 Blanding Blvd. – 32244

These testing locations will be open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 4, and Friday, Feb. 5.

For assistance, citizens may call 630-CITY (2489) to be connected to a customer care representative.

“An important reminder that testing is still a critical tool that we have as we fight this virus while it’s with us,” Curry said. “Testing is available. If you need a test, get a test.”

More help coming?

The city’s new senior center vaccination site opens as a group of local church and community leaders announced their own plan to do the same. Church leaders in Florida are pushing for more than 80 churches in underserved areas to become vaccination clinics -- with nine in Northeast Florida.

“We are alarmed at the low number of minorities that have received vaccination shots thus far,” said Pastor R.L. Gundy. “This movement is about saving lives and addressing health disparities.”

But it’s unclear where the vaccines will come from and when they’ll arrive. Local leaders hope to get it directly from the federal government.

“On our task force, we have Congressman Al Lawson, Congressman Val Demmings. So, we are working with congressional delegations to make sure we do this right,” said former Mayor Alvin Brown.

Gundy said the effort by the city to open the Northside center for limited vaccines is “a start.”

“It’s more reactionary than it is properly planned,” Gundy said.

Gov. Ron DeSantis is also expanding the number of vaccines going to grocery store giant Publix.

President Joe Biden’s administration announced earlier this week that it will expand access to COVID-19 vaccines by distributing them to 6,500 retail pharmacies next week. CVS, Walgreens, Walmart, Sams Club, and Winn Dixie will join Publix in getting more people vaccinated.

“Not only do grocery stores not go into underserved areas, neither do pharmacies. Think about it like if you have a food desert you typically have a pharmacy desert,” said Dr. Sunil Joshi, president of the Duval County Medical Society Foundation.

Joshi said it’s still not enough.

“Just like we would want to do in the rest of our community, we need to have other ways in which to have access to the vaccine, and not just look at the large box pharmacies,” said Joshi.


About the Authors:

Jim Piggott is the reporter to count on when it comes to city government and how it will affect the community.

Multi-media journalist with a special interest in Georgia issues.