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Liveblog: SWFL COVID Vaccination Updates and Information

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Lisa Ferdinando/Office of the Secretary of Defen
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Digital
Army Spc. Angel Laureano holds a vial of the COVID-19 vaccine, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Bethesda, Md., Dec. 14, 2020. (DoD photo by Lisa Ferdinando)

This is a liveblog, updated by WGCU staff as news comes in.
3:30 PM, May 12

Free Vaccine Clinic Saturday

This Saturday, May 15, a free COVID vaccination clinic will be held from 9 AM to 2 PM at Rosa de Saron Assembly of God Church, 13235 Palm Beach Blvd in Fort Myers. The vaccine will be given by the Family Health Centers of Southwest Florida. Interpreters will be onsite to assist and the vaccine is free. No appointment is needed. Bring a form of ID and an insurance card if you have one. The clinic is part of an effort to get vaccines to underserved minorities.

6:00 PM, May 10

Publix No Longer Requires Appointments

As of this morning, Publix no longer requires appointments for COVID-19 vaccinations. Appointments, including same-day appointments, can still be made through the Publix on-line portal. People 18 and older who live or work in Florida have the choice of the 2-dose Moderna vaccine or the single dose Johnson & Johnson. Choice may be limited by availability.

2:00 PM, April 29

Naples Players Offer Vaccines

The Naples Players at Sugden Community Theatre is offering COVID-19 vaccines tomorrow, Friday, April 30, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The theater is located in downtown Naples at 701 5th Avenue S. Just walk in.

4:00 PM, April 26

Collier DOH Offers Shots By Appointment

The Florida Department of Health in Collier County (DOH-Collier), is offering the Moderna vaccine, which is authorized for people age 18 and up, this week—Monday, April 26, through Thursday, April 29—at North Collier Regional Park Exhibit Hall. Vaccinations are by appointment only. Go here to book.

4:00 PM, April 19

Lee Health Offers Vaccines To All

Beginning today, Lee Health is offering vaccine doses to all Floridians 18 and older. Appointments can be made online here. All doses are being administered at Gulf Coast Medical Center.

Currently Lee Health is offering doses of the Moderna vaccine, but in a news release Monday morning, the health system said people will be able to choose either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines when supply allows.

1:00 PM, April 14

Second Appointments Available at Indoor Lee Location

If you received your first COVID-19 vaccine dose at the RSW site between March 18 and 30 and do not already have a second dose appointment at the new indoor location, you can now schedule this appointment. Visit myvaccine.fl.gov to self-schedule or call 833-540-2032 to for assistance.

You may also schedule your first dose at the new location. This video will help explain how.

10:30 AM, April 13

All Florida Vaccination Sites Halt J&J For Now

In keeping with the CDC and FDA recommendations, Gov. DeSantis announced this morning that all vaccination distribution sites in Florida will halt use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. If you are scheduled to get a J&J shot, check with your location to see how they are proceeding.

2:00 PM, April 12

Costco and Walmart are Now Offering Vaccines

Local Costco and Walmart stores are offering vaccines. Check vaccinespotter.org. Most stores in the SWFL area have availability this week, as of this writing.

3:00 PM, April 1

Lee County DOH Vax Site to Move

The Florida Department of Health for Lee County’s vaccination site will move from Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW) to the former Sears at the Edison Mall as of April 12. The new location will be fully climate-controlled.

Existing appointments at the airport site are not affected. Vaccinations will continue to be administered there this week and into next week.

For more information, visit www.leegov.com/vaccine or https://floridahealthcovid19.gov.

3:00 PM, March 29

Lee County Seniors and All Veterans

Lee County Department of Health has enough COVID-19 vaccines for all preregistered Lee County Floridians age 65 and up to be vaccinated this week and next. If you are in this group and may have missed a call from an unknown number, email Lee-PIO@Flhealth.gov. Put “missed call” in the subject line. In the body of the email, include your name, date of birth, and the number you used to register.

Veterans do not need to be enrolled in the VA Healthcare System to be vaccinated, thanks to a bill signed March 24. Veterans are encouraged to call the Bay Pines VA COVID-19 call center at 727-395-2400 to schedule an appointment, though supplies may be limited. Veterans may also schedule a vaccination appointment through the mainstream pharmacy venues.

11:00 AM, March 26

Homebound Vaccines Available

Homebound vaccinations are now being administered in all Florida counties, including Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry, and Glades counties, according to the Florida Division of Emergency Management.

Homebound individuals can sign up to receive a vaccine through this program by filling out the survey available here, by emailing HomeboundVaccine@em.myflorida.com, or by calling 866-779-6121.

More than 5,200 vaccines have been administered through the homebound vaccination program.

11:00 AM, March 25

40+ Next Week; 18+ on April 5

Gov. DeSantis announced that all Floridians age 40 and over will be eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine as of March 29. The eligibility age then drops to 18 and over on April 5. The website vaccinespotter.org can help you find an appointment in your area (or one you don't mind driving to).

1:00 PM, March 19

State Lowers Age Eligibility to 50+

Gov. DeSantis issued an executive order today lowering the age for COVID-19 vaccinations to 50+ as of Monday, March 22. The Governor’s office says it will likely open to all adults May 1.

Orange County has lowered its eligibility to age 40+ as of Monday, March 22. Miami-Dade County also lowered its eligibility to 50+ as of Monday, and 40+ the following Monday, March 29.

Check state, federal, and private pharmacy sources when the eligibility dates officially change to register for an appointment.

2:00 PM, March 17

New Aggregator May Help Locate Appointments

A new aggregating tool, vaccinespotter.org may help people locate available COVID-19 vacine appointments. The site gathers data from local and national pharmacy chains so people don't have to look at the stores' websites one by one. Go to the site and enter your zip code and a radius you're willing to travel to see whether any appointments are available.

1:00 PM, March 15

Millenium Patients Can Preregister

Millennium Physician Group, a large healthcare provider with more than 120 locations in southwest Florida, has developed a website where their patients can pre-register for the COVID-19 vaccine.

When a vaccine becomes available, Millenium says, they will email or text patients, asking them to set up an appointment.

In accordance with state guidelines, people who are eligible include: patients who are 60 and over, Millennium’s own healthcare workers with direct patient contact, and patients under 60 deemed “extremely vulnerable” to COVID-19.

The first appointments through Millennium’s patient vaccine website will be scheduled for the week of March 22, according to the healthcare system.

5:30 PM, March 12

Homebound Can Register for Vaccine

Homebound seniors can now get registered to have the COVID-19 vaccine come to them. Email HomeboundVaccine@em.myflorida.com.

2:00 PM, March 12

Walgreen's and CVS Expand; Age Drops

Vaccine distribution at Walgreen’s pharmacies is set to expand statewide from 12 stores to 97. In Southwest Florida, we will see the vaccine available in nine additional Collier County stores, five additional Charlotte County stores, and one additional in Hendry County. For more information, go to Walgreens.com.

On Monday, March 15, vaccine eligibility statewide will expand to include people 60 and older. Gov. Ron DeSantis said that soon after, he'll drop the eligibility age to anyone 55 and older.

CVS has also expanded its vaccination locations. In Lee County, newly available stores include these:

  • 1350 Lee Blvd, Lehigh Acres 33936
  • 11300 State Road 82, Fort Myers, 33905
  • 16950 Pine Ridge Rd., Fort Myers, 33908
  • 15550 San Carlos Blvd., Fort Myers, 33908
  • 4710 Palm Beach Blvd., Fort Myers, 33905
  • 737 Cape Coral Pkwy E, Cape Coral, 33904
  • 11241 Miromar Square Blvd., Estero, 33928

The store locations for Collier and Charlotte counties have not yet been announced.

CVS does not announce a specific time when its appointments are available, so check CVS.com periodically for availability.

12:00 PM, March 10

More CVS Locations Added

An additional 76 CVS pharmacies in Florida will offer COVID-19 vaccinations starting this Friday, Gov. DeSantis announced yesterday. Counties that feature the additional stores include Lee, Collier, and Charlotte. Reservations for appointments can be made starting tomorrow at cvs.com.

3:30 PM, March 8

DeSantis Lowers Vax Age to 60

Gov. Ron DeSantis announced today that the age of eligibility for COVID-19 vaccination will drop from 65 to 60, as of Monday March 15. Stay tuned for more on this as it develops.

6:00 PM, March 4

All Teachers and School Staff Can Now Get Vaccine

Governor Ron DeSantis announced today that all teachers and school staff, as well as daycare and preschool workers, are now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine in Florida, through the federal vaccination program.

CVS, one of the federal pharmcy sites, began offering the vaccine immediately to this group. Publix will open appointments for this group starting tomorrow (Friday).

Other sites in the federal pharmacy program include Winn-Dixie, Walmart, Walgreens and Sams Club.

2:00 PM, March 4

Second Dose Only Available at CVS

If you are in need of a second dose only (perhaps you travelled far to get your first dose), try CVS. There, you have an option to book a second dose only. As of this writing, the Florida CVS appointments ae fully booked. But you may want to keep an eye on their site. People without online access can call CVS customer service at 800-746-7287.

2:00 PM, March 3

Reminder to Register if you Haven't

Eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine has expanded recently. If you have not registered with the state, you can do so here on the state's site.

These are the categories of people currently eligible for a vaccine in Florida:

Everyone age 65+

Long-term care facility residents and staff

Healthcare personnel with direct patient contact

Individuals deemed extremely vulnerable to COVID-19

K-12 school employees, age 50+

Law enforcement officers, age 50+

Firefighters, age 50+

12:30, March 1

Vaccinations to Expand

Gov. Ron DeSantis will expand vaccinations, by executive order Friday, to include K-12 educators age 50+, law enforcement age 50+, and firefighters age 50+.

An additional Winn-Dixie store in Naples will be added to the list of stores administering the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine for free. The location is:4849 Golden Gate Pkwy. in Naples. For more info and to schedule an appointment: www.winndixie.com/pharmacy/covid-vaccine.

Publix has expanded online reservations for the COVID-19 vaccine to all 730 locations in Florida with in-store pharmacies. Vaccinations are by appointment only for people 65+. To make an appointment, go to publix.com/covidvaccine. The online reservation system generally opens at 7 AM every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning.

12:00 PM, February 24

SWFL Pharmacies Get Some Doses

As part of the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program, vaccines will now be available at select CVS pharmacies, and two are in southwest Florida: One in Naples (Collier County) and one in Clewiston (Hendry County). Unfortunately both are fully booked already for this batch, but the stores may get more doses. People must register in advance at CVS.com or through the CVS Pharmacy app. Those without online access can contact CVS customer service by phone at 800-746-7287.

Publix may have appointment availability Friday at 7 AM, but it has not been confirmed. The grocery chain reopened appointment booking this morning, but none were available in southwest Florida.

1:00 PM, February 23

Vaccine Shipments Arriving

The Florida Division of Emergency Management reported that as of Monday morning, all delayed shipments for the week have been received by the state.

The Florida Department of Health in Collier County received a shipment of second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. DOH-Collier has begun scheduling appointments for those who are due for their second dose this week. The DOH-Collier call center can be reached at (239) 252-6220 from Monday-Sunday, 9 AM to 5 PM. The call center can be reached at (239) 252-6220.

1:30 PM, February 22

Vaccines Continue to be Delayed

The next window to book Publix vaccine appointments is expected to be Wednesday, February 24, but that has not been confirmed. Publix says that, for more information, they engage with customers on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

The Collier County Department of Health has said that those scheduled tomorrow (February 23) or later will have to wait until the county has received more doses.

2:00 PM, February 18

Vaccine Shipments Delayed; Doses for Vulnerable Younger People On Tap

For the second time this week, Publix has canceled its COVID vaccine registry window, this time for Friday morning, because of the winter storms in the middle of the country. Customers with second-dose appointments should still go to the Publix Pharmacy at their scheduled date and time.

The Collier County Department of Health is experiencing a delay in its incoming vaccine shipment. It says it should have an update within the next several days, at which time it will notify residents to schedule an appointment.

At the same time, local health systems are beginning to receive doses slated for people younger than 65 who are high risk.

The NCH Healthcare System is scheduled this week to receive 670 doses of the Moderna vaccine. NCH is working with the state Department of Health to identify individuals 65 and younger who are high risk and qualify.

For its part, the Lee Health System has received 1,000 doses weekly for the past two weeks for people under 65 who are at high risk. However, the storm has kept them from receiving this week’s shipment. The hospital says it is using its records system to identify patients and will contact them directly.

2:30 PM, February 17

Lee and Collier DOH Have Trouble Getting First Doses

First doses of COVID-19 vaccine appointments that were scheduled today (Feb. 17) through the Florida Department of Health in Lee County are rescheduled for Thursday, Feb. 25, at the same time. People in Lee County who have an appointment this week to get their second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine will still be able to get their shot. The state department of health in Collier County reported that they also did not receive their shipment of vaccines for first doses this week, but that people with appointments for second doses will still receive them.

1:00 PM, February 16

Publix Scheduling Cancelled Tomorrow

Severe weather throughout the country has interfered with vaccine distribution, so Publix has cancelled its appointment scheduling event for Feb. 17. People who have appointments already for this week can go through with them. Check the Publix COVID vaccine website for updates of when they will start scheduling appointments again.

3:30 PM, February 12

New Site Helps Spanish, Mandarin Speakers

A new website aims to help Spanish and Mandarin speakers find information about the COVID-19 vaccines. It also explains who’s eligible and where to get the vaccine. The website is PlanificaTuVacuna.com. That means Plan Your Vaccine in Spanish. They also have information in English and Mandarin.

The site, sponsored by Telemundo and Comcast NBC Universal, can search for locations across Florida and the U.S.

3:30 PM, February 11

New Marco System Puts Oldest First

Marco Island has introduced a new COVID-19 vaccine appointment registration website that prioritizes vaccine distribution by age, with oldest residents getting first dibs. The number of vaccine appointments Marco Island officials will give out will vary from week to week based on how many doses the city is allocated. To register, go to http://vaccine.cityofmarcoisland.com.

12:00 PM, February 10

Lee DOH Second Doses Are Happening This Week

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People who had their first coronavirus vaccine in Lee County the week of January 11 are due for their second shot. The Department of Health call center is currently making calls to schedule those appointments, which will happen at the RSW site (16000 Chamberlin Parkway, Ft. Myers) today and tomorrow.

Calls are being made through Thursday.

If you scheduled your second appointment while you were getting vaccinated at the RSW site, you already have an appointment and do not need to call or do anything further. You just need to show up, says the Department of Health.

If your second dose was due before February 9, but you have not scheduled an appointment, please email the Department of Health at Lee-Pio@flhealth.gov.

5:00 PM, Tuesday, February 9

Winn-Dixie Offers Vaccine Appointments

Some Winn-Dixie stores in Southwest Florida will begin giving vaccinations on February 11 and appointments are already available. Please check here for a store near you, and check back often.

12:00 PM, Friday, February 5

Goodwill to Help Seniors Register

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Goodwill Industries of Southwest Florida is available to help seniors register for the COVID-19 vaccine on the statewide system. Goodwill Community Resource Center coordinators can help seniors who need assistance getting online, and can further help with digital skills training. Contact the Community Resource Center near you.

2:30 PM, Thursday, February 4

New Retail Options for Vaccines

COVID-19 vaccines will soon be available from Walmart and Winn-Dixie pharmacies in Florida, in addition to Publix. This week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention launched the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program, whose goal is to increase access to COVID-19 vaccinations. The program is slated to begin February 11, and vaccinations will continue to be available to people age 65 and older.

In other vaccination news, Publix has moved its morning online registration from 6 AM to 7 AM. The next available date is Friday, February 5. Go to Publix.com/covid-vaccine to register.

And, the state of Florida has begun amassing a waitlist for COVID vaccinations. Register at myvaccine.fl.gov. To register by phone, call the number by county, below.

Charlotte County
Phone: 866-200-9160
TTY: 833-990-3549

Collier County
Phone: 866-201-4885
TTY: 833-990-3490

Glades County
Phone: 866-201-6695
TTY: 833-476-1524

Hendry County
Phone: 866-201-6745
TTY: 833-990-3548

Lee County
Phone: 866-200-3468
TTY: 855-665-6608

Manatee County
Phone: 866-201-5412
TTY: 833-476-1518

Sarasota County
Phone: 866-201-7170
TTY: 833-476-1449

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