COVID-19: People camp out overnight for COVID-19 vaccine in St. Johns County

St. Johns County: COVID-19 vaccine rollout

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. — People slept in their vehicles Friday night to secure a spot in line for a COVID-19 vaccine at the St. Johns County Health Department.

As of 10 p.m. more than a dozen vehicles were parked in line.

The St. Johns County Health Department will administer vaccines Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. or when daily supplies run out.

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Joan Tischer was first in line Friday night.

“To me, it’s worth it,” Tischer said. “It’s better than a night in the ICU.”

She said she was turned away earlier Friday because the site ran out of supplies.

“As long as I get it tomorrow, I will be thrilled,” Tischer said.

It was a rocky rollout of COVID-19 vaccinations the first week in St. Johns County.

Friday, the department of health accepted the offer.

In a letter from the St. Johns County Health Department, Dr. Dawn Allicock wrote, “We understood that any roll-out was never going to be perfect, and that it was not as smooth as we all would have wished.”

The high demand and limited supply could have something to do with that. The SJC DOH received its first allocation of 3,000 COVID-19 vaccines late Monday and began administering the vaccine Tuesday.

Even before the SJC DOH received vaccines or knew how much it would receive, the agency said it was inundated with calls and online requests late last week.

The SJC DOH said it started a waiting list which had well over 1,500 eligible names by Monday and grew to over 2,500 names by Tuesday.

The department of health tried to schedule appointments, but said its new updated phone system with 140 lines continued to overload and crash.

The department of health said it decided to switch to a first-come, first-served basis. Part of the letter said, “we could not let an appointment scheduling issue stand in the way of getting lifesaving vaccines out to our priority vulnerable populations.”

St. Johns County Chair of Commissioners Jeremiah Blocker said the partnership between the county and health department will help expand and expedite the distribution of vaccines.

“We feel that we can help the health department implement a much more effective process,” Commissioner Blocker said.

Commissioner Blocker said the goal is to add a new location for people to get vaccinated next week, with plans to add more later on. He said the exact locations haven’t been determined.