COVID-19 vaccination news for Pinellas County

Vern Cummings of Largo, a 94-year-old World War II veteran receives his COVID-19 vaccination live on Fox TV Feb. 18. Cummings was part of a segment with Gov. Ron DeSantis highlighting the state’s homebound senior vaccination program.

Gov. DeSantis highlights homebound senior vaccination program

LARGO — Gov. Ron DeSantis highlighted Florida’s homebound senior vaccination program Feb. 18 during a visit to the home of Vern and Dottie Cummings in Largo where Vern, a World War II veteran, received his COVID-19 vaccine.

Florida’s homebound senior vaccination program is an effort between the Florida Department of Health and Florida Division of Emergency Management to increase vaccine access for seniors in Florida with limited mobility.

To date, the state is leading the nation in the vaccination of individuals 65 and older, according to a press release from the governor’s office. Official reporting shows Florida approaching 2 million seniors vaccinated, though due to reporting lags, Florida has likely reached the two-millionth vaccinated senior — a milestone the governor celebrated with Cummings.

The Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs is working to identify homebound veterans of World War II and the Korean War. Homebound veterans interested in the vaccine can submit their contact information at the following website: https://www.floridavets.org/homeboundveterans/

Vern Cummings turns 95 this coming March and enlisted in the Navy following his high school graduation. He is a World War II veteran, serving on the USS Indiana and USS Massachusetts, including the invasion of Iwo Jima and the battle of Okinawa.

Pinellas opens larger COVID-19 vaccination site

LARGO — The Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County and Pinellas County Government launched the largest vaccine site in the county Feb. 16, equipped to vaccinate up to 2,000 people per day.

Vaccine distribution continues by appointment only for residents 65 and older registered on the Patient Portal website, with more than 106,000 getting at least their first dose as of that Tuesday around 11% of the population.

Pinellas Fire paramedics along with health department nurses and Pinellas County staff will serve residents with appointments at the new Pinellas Central Vaccination Site.

Residents can sign up for an appointment by creating an account on the CDR Health Pro Patient Portal online at www.PatientPortalFL.com.

Officials recommend when creating an account to opt into both email and text alerts. Individuals without immediate computer or cell phone access are encouraged to have a friend or family member create their account for them and monitor for the invitation.

Residents can also call 844-770-8548 for help creating an account or other technical assistance. Registering over the phone can take significantly longer than using a computer and residents will still need an email account or a phone number capable of receiving text messages to receive their invitation for an appointment.

As new appointments become available in the coming weeks, eligible residents will receive an invitation with instructions for scheduling. For now, people will be contacted in the order in which they signed up.

Residents should monitor for a direct notification from CDR Health. Only one notification will be provided. Reminders will not be sent.

After you receive your invitation, log in to the Patient Portal, enter the requested information, and book first and second dose appointments. Users will have 48 hours to complete the booking.

Residents are urged to keep the appointment. Due to limited supply and high demand, rescheduling is not available. Prioritize accordingly.

Residents also are asked to arrive on time, but not early to eliminate problems with crowding at the site.

Local pharmacies, including Publix, Walmart and Sam's Club, are also offering vaccine appointments in Pinellas based on available supply. Check store websites for more information.

For more information on local vaccine distribution and availability updates, visit https://covid19.pinellascounty.org/vaccines/.

New site opening in Tampa

Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Feb. 19 that the state had partnered with the federal government to open four COVID-19 vaccination sites.

The sites in Tampa, Orlando, Jacksonville and Miami will open March 3. The site in Tampa will be at the Tampa Greyhound Track, 755 E. Waters Ave.

Each site will administer 2,000 vaccines a day in addition to having two smaller, mobile satellite sites that will administer 500 shots a day in underserved areas.

The state will use its preregistration system, visit https://myvaccine.fl.gov/. Residents in Pinellas County can call 866-201-7113, 833-476-1025 or 833-540-2024.

Appointments are required.