As state workers offer COVID shots to thousands of seniors, swath of senior housing in Jacksonville missed

Thousands of elderly people in U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development housing units in Florida have been vaccinated against COVID-19, but in Jacksonville, a swath of senior housing has been missed.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Thousands of elderly people in U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development housing units in Florida have been vaccinated against COVID-19, but in Jacksonville, a swath of senior housing has been missed.

In a tweet Thursday, the Florida Division of Emergency Management said it went to 145 HUD facilities, offering shots to residents. In two weeks, more than 9,000 seniors got a shot.

“All facilities will be visited by March 12. FDEM is committed to ensuring that all seniors who want a vaccine are able to receive one,” the state Division of Emergency Management tweeted.

According to a FDEM spokesperson, the agency reached out to 38 HUD facilities in Duval County, 28 of which reported they were already offered the vaccine. Nine facilities in Duval County had vaccine clinics hosted by FDEM.

Donna Taylor, 68, was one of the people to receive a vaccine last week. Taylor has breathing problems and has spent most of the last year alone in her apartment at the Towers of Jacksonville.

“They came in and vaccinated everybody and came up to my apartment and did it,” said Taylor. “And it just felt like, ‘Oh, my God, maybe there is going to be a life after this.”

But the state did not include any of the facilities with Jacksonville’s public housing agency, the Jacksonville Housing Authority. A JHA spokesperson said the state did not reach out to offer vaccine clinics in any of its four properties dedicated to seniors and adults who are disabled.

JHA houses more than 700 seniors.

Charlie-Mae Jackson lives in JHA’s senior high-rise Centennial Towers. Jackson has already received her second shot of the Moderna vaccine but said she worries about her neighbors.

“It’s a lot of people here that don’t have cars,” Jackson said. “They don’t have a way of getting around, and if they wanted to get it, it would be easier to bring it the senior citizen building.”

Dwayne Alexander, CEO of JHA, said recently the agency has provided information about nearby vaccination sites to its eligible residents.

“We are in the process of talking with a health care provider to set up vaccination sites at our facilities once the provider has access to the vaccines,” Alexander said.

FDEM did not immediately answer whether it plans to develop similar vaccination clinics inside city-run public housing agencies across Florida.


About the Author:

Kelly Wiley, an award-winning investigative reporter, joined the News4Jax I-Team in June 2019.