OUR POSITION: Charlotte County is the second oldest county in the state of Florida and we are not getting our needed doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, which is no surprise considering the apparent lack of a good distribution plan.
Show us the needle!
That should be the new catch phrase in Charlotte County. And, Sarasota and DeSoto counties for that matter.
While larger counties (can you say more voters?) have been given generous doses of the COVID-19 vaccine being doled out by Tallahassee, Charlotte has seen minimal deliveries. We don’t understand the slight, considering Charlotte has more people over 65 than any county in the state with the possible exception of Sumter County, where The Villages is located.
We expected Florida — considering the cozy relationship Gov. Ron DeSantis has with President Trump — to get a mega supply of the vaccine. That may or may not be the case, but one thing we know for sure and that is the distribution has been slow and unsteady. No one seems to ever know when a delivery will be made — or who is making the decisions on where the vaccines will go.
Wednesday morning, word got out that some appointments were available in Charlotte County by going online at 9 a.m. to register. Those who tried were met, more than not, with a message that the site was down. The appointments filled up by 9:02 a.m.
It’s been known for almost a year there would be a new vaccine.
Our federal government launched Operation Warp Speed and our medical industries took their own initiatives as well — to get the vaccine created, studied, approved and sent.
And now we wait. And the computer screen gives area residents a 525 error message saying: The computer is fine — the website is crashed
Attempts at a mass distribution, have turned into mass confusion and short supply.
Gov. Ron DeSantis won’t take the blame. This is on the counties. This is on the Department of Health. This is on others.
Hospitals, for what it’s worth, are trying their best to figure this out. Sarasota Memorial Hospital held an event based, basically, on a lottery system for people over the age of 65 and other priority individuals, to get their first shot. They were given information on getting their second in about three weeks.
But it seems the basic infrastructure of getting the vaccines from federal stockpiles to local facilities either broke under the weight of the first needle or was not set up quite right in the first place.
In an era of tragedy and embarrassments, this has that bad combination of both. This is a long-awaited obvious event that has rightfully outraged our citizens.
Yes, patience is needed. But patients are not waiting. Every day it seems we set new records in Florida for infections, hospitalizations and deaths. This is partially on us. We were told not to gather and we did. We were told to wear masks and we didn’t. There is nobody without blame at this point — but the need to get the fix to all of us is obvious. And it’s not happening in as an expedient way as possible.
It’s not Gov. DeSantis who needs to be giving the shots. But it was him who should have been calling the shots — or at least insisting the state’s Department of Health had a process in place to distribute enough of the vaccine where it is needed.
Overall, it’s been a failure.
One idea we like is to reset how vaccines are given with nursing homes a priority and then assigning appointments by age. If the state began with the 90-over age group, then 80 or 85 and over on down, it seems it would not only be a more orderly roll-out but would make sure the most vulnerable would be the first to be vaccinated.
COVID-19 isn’t waiting around. It’s killing today and will kill tomorrow. We need a better plan and we need to get more vaccine to the public — especially in counties with the oldest population.