BY ANDREAS BUTLER
Governor Ron DeSantis has expanded vaccinations to those 50 years or older that are K-12 employees, long-term care facilities residents and staff, health care personnel with direct patient contact, law enforcement and firefighters.
Despite cases and death tolls leveling off, including locally, the coronavirus pandemic remains a major concern.
“Cases are still declining. The positivity rate seems to be leveling off,” confirmed Susan Monahan with the Florida Department of Health of Volusia County.
The health department and Volusia County are still conducting vaccination events countywide on a weekly basis.
On Wednesday, vaccinations occurred at the Volusia County Fairgrounds and Chisolm Community Center in DeLand.
‘Better system’ needed
The fairgrounds event was free, drive through, and by appointment only. The Chisholm event was free, appointment only, and walk up.
“We’re moving forward. There is still a demand. Interest has been good, but I think we still need a better system of getting the message out,” said Volusia County Councilwoman Barbara Girtman.
Monahan echoed, “Registration does fill up fast. Last week, we administered 10,700 first and second doses.”
Seniors 65 years and older remain vaccination priority.
In the Black community, seniors are still undervaccinated. Issues like access to technology and online platforms, tech savviness and skepticism play a role.
“Our staff respond to seniors making requests for assistance by obtaining appointments,” said Monahan.
Girtman expressed, “We have people reaching out to the community to pre-register and connect seniors to vaccine coordinators. We recognized the situation. We are trying to work with trusted voices in the community, family members and organizations.”
Inroads have been made in the Black community, which is a more vulnerable population due to health disparities.
In addition to vaccinations in DeLand at the Chisholm Center, in Daytona vaccines were administered at the Midtown Cultural & Educational Center on Feb.24.
“I want us to continue to pre-register people from the community so that we know we have the demand and when the opportunity arrives, we know that we have people interested,” stressed Girtman.
“We are working with entities like the Daytona Beach Black Clergy Alliance and NAACP to address issues and provide assistance,” she added.
Monahan noted, “We are working with the county to coordinate vaccination events in these communities where people face burdens to receiving the vaccine. To reduce the burden of COVID-19 on people already facing disparities, we are testing and distributing cloth masks.”
For county vaccination events, individuals must provide proof of Florida residency by a state-issued drivers license or identification card along with a utility bill.
Pre-registration is online at www.myvaccine.fl.gov or by calling 866-201-7314.
For questions on pre-registration and appointments, call the state hotline at 833-540-2077.
The county and health department are providing the Moderna version of the vaccine. A second dose of the vaccine or a booster is required in 28 days.
Vaccinations are also available at the following pharmacies: Walmart, CVS, Publix, Walgreens, Sam’s Club and Winn Dixie.
For information about the coronavirus in Volusia County, visit www.volusia.org/coronavirus