When the Health Department in Lake County (DOH-Lake) began its immunization plan, we received lots of feedback from our community requesting an appointment-based system. In response to those concerns, our Emergency Management staff worked closely with DOH-Lake to form a plan for bringing appointments to Lake County. During our BCC meeting on Jan. 12, your Board of County Commissioners approved the plan and appointments were scheduled within hours of adjourning the meeting. 15 minutes after opening the scheduling portal, appointments were filled, and the website logged over 15,000 unique users.
This gives some context to the disparity between the demand for vaccines and the available supply provided by the state. Lake County is administering the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine to individuals with appointments who qualify under Gov. DeSantis’ priority population guidelines. Persons who text COVIDUPDATE to 888777 will be notified when the County receives more vaccines and the Immunization Scheduling System reopens. Visit the scheduling website at https://scheduling.lakecountyfl.gov for more information and answers to frequently asked questions.
At this time, the County is only scheduling first dose appointments for the Pfizer vaccine. Second dose appointments will be scheduled before leaving the immunization site. Please note that second dose appointments are tentative and subject to change based on vaccine availability and site conditions. We have also received many inquiries about the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine appointments. Moderna vaccines were administered by DOH-Lake and we were informed that they will contact individuals for their second dose appointment.
We have received lots of positive feedback regarding our immunization site, but we also know there is a lot of work that still needs to be done to expand our efforts. For as many who are relieved to have received a vaccine, there are many more who remain anxious and frustrated. Please know that your County officials and staff, together with DOH-Lake and local and state partners, are working hard to offer immunization in Lake County. Plans for additional sites and higher throughput are in the works but are largely dependent on the state’s supply of COVID-19 vaccine to DOH-Lake.
DOH-Lake has been a key player in helping the County to establish its appointment-based immunization site, from providing vaccines to assigning staff members for planning and on-site support. Additionally, because of their efforts with the first come, first served drive-through sites, Lake County leads in immunization distribution per capita among neighboring counties. This is especially significant because, while DOH-Lake applied for many of the pilot programs currently active in other counties, Lake County was not selected. Wait times at DOH-Lake drive-through immunization sites may be an inconvenience but allow for faster distribution. Because the State indicated that vaccine distribution would be prioritized based on the number of reported vaccines administered, this is an important component of DOH-Lake’s immunization plan.
I want to reiterate that the State’s immunization plan is a multifaceted approach with several options for immunization as well as many others on the horizon. The response we have received from the community and neighboring counties to this point has been encouraging and I’m excited for future immunization opportunities for Lake County residents.