nPinellas County residents now have more access to a COVID-19 vaccination, thanks to the Federal Retail Pharmacy program.
Walmart and Sam’s Club pharmacies began offering COVID-19 vaccines in Florida through the program on Friday, Feb 12. They join Publix, which began offering the shots Feb. 3. Winn-Dixie is offering vaccinations at some locations in Florida, but none in Pinellas as Feb. 13.
More than 1,000 Walmart and Sam’s Club pharmacies in 22 states received limited supplies of federal vaccine allocations last week. The focus is customers in underserved communities with limited access to healthcare.
Participating locations in Pinellas County include:
• Sam’s Club, 2575 Gulf to Bay Blvd., Clearwater
• Walmart, 2677 Roosevelt Blvd., Largo
• Walmart, 8001 U.S. 19 N., Pinellas Park
• Walmart, 6900 U.S. 19 N., Pinellas Park
• Sam's Club, Park Blvd., Pinellas Park
• Walmart, 3501 34th St. S., St Petersburg
You do not have to be a member of Sam’s Club to sign-up for an appointment. Appointments are available seven days a week, but exact timing will vary based on local availability of the vaccine.
Vaccines will be available to those who meet the current phase of vaccine eligibility in Florida. According to information on the Department of Health’s website, https://floridahealthcovid19.gov, vaccine supplies remain limited and appointments may not be available at some sites.
The state is prioritizing vaccine supplies and the following are eligible for vaccines right now:
• Persons 65 years of age and older.
• Health care personnel with direct patient contact.
• Residents and staff of long term care facilities.
• Persons deemed to be extremely vulnerable to COVID-19 by hospital providers.
Pinellas County has taken steps to improve its scheduling of vaccinations at sites under its control. DOH-Pinellas sites are using direct notification instead of open calls to access its website at a certain date and time.
Now residents 65 and older who have pre-registered through CDR Health Pro Patient Portal, www.patientportalfl.com, will receive a text and/or email as vaccine appointments become available. Residents will need to book appointments for both doses within 48 hours of the notification. Only enough people to cover the available vaccine supply will be contacted.
Residents can also call 844-770-8548 to create an account or get help. Individuals without a computer or cell phone access can have a friend or family member pre-register for them and monitor for the notification.
Residents can pre-register at www.patientportalfl.com at any time to be placed a waiting list for an appointment.
As of Feb 9, there were about 60,000 residents registered in the system who have not yet been scheduled for an appointment.
Dr. Ulyee Choe, director of the Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County, told county commissioners Feb. 9 that Pinellas currently has the second highest percentage of people vaccinated among large Florida counties and the highest rate among long-term care facility residents, which have seen a disproportionate number of deaths from the pandemic.
Choe also reported that about 10,000 people a week were being vaccinated at four public sites run by the Health Department and supported by local fire paramedics.
Available vaccines at those sites from Feb. 8-12 went to those in need of a second dose. As vaccine supplies improve, more first and second doses will be scheduled.
The county has identified a fifth site with larger capacity and it may be put to use as early as this week.
Choe reminded commissioners that residents also have been getting vaccinated through hospitals, health centers, long-term care facilities, and more recently through pharmacies.
Currently, DOH-Pinellas is only providing vaccinations for those ages 65 and older and health care workers. The state is providing vaccine for residents and staff of long-term care facilities, and hospitals are administering vaccine to those younger than 65 who are considered extremely vulnerable.
For more information on local vaccine distribution and availability updates, visit https://covid19.pinellascounty.org/vaccines.
Suzette Porter is TBN’s Pinellas County editor. She can be reached at email@example.com.