Pinellas receiving ‘surge’ of vaccine doses, DeSantis says

During a visit to Pinellas Park on Thursday morning, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced that the county would be receiving an additional 8,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in the next week.

PINELLAS PARK — Amid concern that the area’s seniors are lagging the statewide average in getting vaccinated against the coronavirus, Pinellas County is receiving 8,000 more doses of vaccine in the next week.

Gov. Ron DeSantis announced the local push at a Thursday news conference at Mainlands of Tamarac by the Gulf, a 55-and-older community of nearly 400 homes in Pinellas Park. The governor said Florida has vaccinated about 42% of those 65 and older, but only 35% in Pinellas have received shots.

“So we said some of those areas that have a lot of seniors that are below the state average, we want to surge more doses there,” DeSantis said outside the Mainlands community clubhouse. “This is part of that effort to up the doses in Pinellas County.”

Shots began to be offered Thursday at Mainlands, and 3,000 people were expected to be inoculated there by Saturday, Feb. 20. DeSantis said a second Pinellas pop-up site will be selected soon, and another 5,000 doses will be delivered to that site next week.

“Going into senior-dominated communities allows us to reach a critical mass quickly,” DeSantis said.

Leading the state in vaccinating seniors are St. Johns County at 68%, Lafayette with 67% and Leon with 66%. Pinellas’ 35% rate is in the bottom quartile of the state’s 67 counties, as are those of Pasco, with 34%, and Hernando, at 32%.

Highlands and Glades counties had the lowest vaccination rate for those 65 and older, both at 25%.

The 8,000-shot shipment to Pinellas is in addition to the county’s regular allotment of vaccines.

Earlier this month, the state announced that 490 pharmacy locations would be offering the vaccine through the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program. Publix, Walmart, Sam’s Club and Winn-Dixie pharmacies are participating, with appointments scheduled in accordance with vaccine supply. Visit those retailers’ web sites for more information.

The Department of Health of Pinellas County is also registering people for vaccination at sites under its control. Residents 65 and older can visit the CDR Health Pro Portal and and the county will contact applicants as appointments become available. Residents can also call 844-770-8548 to create an account or get help.