The number everyone is waiting for is 1,600 for the next installment of Moderna vaccine for Charlotte County senior citizens.

The date and time are not yet known, said the county’s Communications Director Brian Gleason. And about 950 of those coronavirus vaccines are already spoken for.

Those 950 plus are the people over age 64 who had managed to sign up for vaccines the county did not have Wednesday. That was the day that the county discovered they had an extra 200 doses to give out, and opened up the registration website at 9 a.m. After 45,000 users crashed the system, the calendar remained live, Gleason said. By the time the website handlers made it back into the system, around 1,150 had signed up for 200 slots.

Emergency response staff called all 950 people that day, Gleason said, and told them not to come for the vaccine on Thursday or Friday. If no one answered, they left a message, so anyone who showed up at the vaccine site the next two days did not check their messages, Gleason said. These people also have been put in line for the next batch.

That batch should arrive Monday or Tuesday, Gleason said. It’s not clear how or when people will be able to sign up at this point.

As promised by the county’s Health Chief Joe Pepe, the 1,600 is twice the amount of the last installment. This news comes as other counties such as Miami-Dade report little or no new vaccine supplies next week, according to the Miami Herald Thursday. Pepe had said last week the county would be getting a greater share as the state switches to allocations reflecting the number of people over 65 rather than the general population.

In a televised statement Friday, Gov. Ron DeSantis also said the state is handing out more vaccines to sites that are what he called “high functioning.” He referred to Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium site and the Villages giant retirement community in Sumter County.

The state has promised to create a centralized web and phone-based registration system for counties that want the state to take over this task that has caused so much frustration for seniors as well as government officials.

“Everyone is holding their breath for the state system to take over,” Gleason said.

If it doesn’t show up, Gleason said, the county will use the system that was built by a nonprofit coalition earlier in the pandemic:, Community Organizations Active in a Disaster. The county does not have a sufficiently robust phone system to handle phone vaccine registration.

A state website would be cloud based, Gleason said, which is less likely to crash. Cloud-based systems cost a lot, he said. If the state doesn’t come through, the county will have to consider buying its own cloud-based system, he added, because the current system cannot add much more capacity.

Pepe also said last week that Charlotte County would be switching to a rapid turn-around approach, in which the vaccines go out the same week they arrive. This is to make sure the state and DeSantis see Charlotte County as “high functioning.”

Currently, there are no vaccines scheduled for distribution next week in Charlotte County for people over 64. That would allow for distribution of the new vaccine shipment in the same week, Gleason said. County officials expect they can administer 1,000 shots a day if they had the supply, he said.

To receive a text message notifying you that vaccine sign-ups are available, you should send the text message CHARCOCARES (no spaces) to the number 888-777. This past week, the county was able to get the message out a half-hour before the site went live for the 200 extra doses.


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