Starting Monday, April 5, most everyone in Pinellas County and the state of Florida will be eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccination.
By executive order from Gov. Ron DeSantis age eligibility will be lowered to ages 16 and up with those ages 16-17 eligible to receive the Pfizer vaccine.
County officials say vaccine supplies are limited and will be made available to full-time and part-time residents only.
To make an appointment, start by creating an account online at www.patientportalfl.com. Those without internet access can call 844-770-8548 or ask a friend or family member with internet access to help you pre-register online.
A parent or caretaker must make an account with their own information and then select their minor child when asked to book an appointment.
After making an account, log in to see available appointments, which open up weekly. Select an appointment time. Officials advise that residents must make first and second appointments at the same time. Both Pfizer and Moderna vaccine require two doses to be most effective.
Note: Appointments for the week of April 5 are already booked, but appointments are available for the week of April 12. In addition, the portal allows residents to also sign up for testing in other counties, so be sure you sign up for a vaccine appointment.
When you go to the vaccination site on your appointment day, take proof of Florida residency, such as a driver’s license, utility bill, rental agreement or deed. Minors under age 18 must be accompanied by a parent or caretaker.
After your shot, be prepared to stay for 15-30 minutes so you can be monitored for any possible reactions. The site is operated by fire paramedic crews.
Other places to get vaccinated in Pinellas
Several local pharmacies are booking appointments for COVID-19 vaccines, including Publix, visit www.publix.com/covid-vaccine/florida; Walmart, visit www.walmart.com/covidvaccine; Sam’s Club, visit www.samsclub.com/pharmacy; CVS, visit https://www.cvs.com/immunizations/covid-19-vaccine or call 800-746-7287; or Winn-Dixie, https://www.winndixie.com/pharmacy/covid-vaccine.
Veterans of all ages and health conditions who receive care from Bay Pines VA Healthcare System can get a vaccination Monday-Friday. Call 727-2400.
For a list of more places and other vaccination information, visit https://covid19.pinellascounty.org/vaccines/.
Number vaccinated as of March 31
Statewide, 5,979,461 had received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine as of March 31, including 3,398,856 who had completed the one- or two-dose series. The age group with the most completing the series was 65-74 with 1,339,317, followed by 75-84 with 778,766, 55-64 with 398,830, 85 and older with 261,572, 45-54 with 253,389, 35-44 with 184,514, 25-34 with 137,116 and 16-24 with 45,452.
In Pinellas, 300,355 had received at least one dose, including 169,227 who had completed the series. The age group with the most completing the series was 65-74 with 71,537; 75-84 with 37,5554, 55-64 with 18,810, 85 and older with 14,447; 45-54 with 10,886; 35-44 with 8,032; 25-34 with 6,330 and 16-24 with 1,631.
Life after getting fully vaccinated
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have released recommendations for people who are fully vaccinated. You are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the last dose of either two-dose Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or the single-dose Johnson & Johnson’s version.
CDC says people who are fully vaccinated should continue to protect themselves and others by wearing a mask, continuing to social distance and avoiding crowds, especially in poorly ventilated spaces when in public.
You should also avoid gathering with unvaccinated people from more than one household or visiting someone with an increased risk of a severe illness or death from COVID-19.
You should continue to avoid gathering with medium or large numbers of people.
Travelers will still be required to wear masks on planes, buses, trains and other forms of public transportation. People will still be required to follow guidance put in place by their employer.
Anyone with symptoms should still get tested and stay away from others until the test confirms they do not have COVID-19.
However, CDC has loosened some restrictions for people who are fully vaccinated. Officials now say they can gather indoors with others that are fully vaccinated without wearing a mask or staying 6 feet apart.
They can also gather indoors with unvaccinated people of any age from one other household. CDC gives an example of a group of visiting relatives that all live together. Those fully vaccinated can gather with this one group without masks or social distancing unless there is someone they live with that is of increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19.
Restrictions have been loosened for travelers. For example, you can travel in the United States without getting tested before or after travel and there is no need to self-quarantine after travel.
International travelers do not need to get tested before leaving the United States unless it is required by the intended destination. They do not need to self-quarantine after returning to the United States. They still must have a negative COVID-19 test before boarding a flight to the U.S. and get a follow-up test three to five days after their return.
People who have been around someone with COVID-19 do not need to stay away from others or get tested unless they show symptoms or if they live in a group home. People who live in a group setting should stay away from others for 14 days and get tested even if they do not have symptoms.
For the most up-to-date information on CDC recommendations, visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/fully-vaccinated.html.
Suzette Porter is TBN’s Pinellas County editor. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.