While Sarasota County residents wait to find out if COVID-19 vaccines are coming to their local Publix stores — as they have in other Florida counties — state health officials are rolling out a new registration system, set to go online at noon Wednesday.
Ashler Spangler, CHAT liaison for the Sarasota Department of Heath, updated members of the Englewood Community Health Action Team meeting Tuesday, on the new system. Users can create an online account or by using the mobile app to register for an upcoming vaccine clinic.
Spangler also said the Sarasota County Health Department can’t just request extra doses of the COVID-19 vaccine from the federal government, and neither can Publix.
On Tuesday, Florida Gov.Ron DeSantis announced seven Publix stores in Charlotte County will have the vaccine. However, nothing is slated for Sarasota County — yet. DeSantis has made announces in new counties every week since December.
CHAT members discussed what happens when the vaccine is available at Publix and other South County sites.
“Even if Publix can begin giving the shots, there will still be a limit and the slots may fill up quickly because there are only so many doses available and the supply is not meeting the demand for how many people want the vaccination,” said Spangler said.
“When Publix came on board in other counties, the appointments were filled in less than five minutes. Manatee County has a lottery system that selected 700 names of people who wanted appointments out of thousands. Then they had to contact those people for appointments. There’s just not enough vaccines right now.”
Florida Department of Health-Sarasota received 3,300 Moderna COVID-19 vaccines that will be distributed to those in priority groups (65+ and front-line health care workers) during a by-appointment drive-thru clinic at Twin Lakes Parks on Thursday and Friday in Sarasota. It’s anticipated once people can register for those vaccines, the spots will be taken in minutes.
While waiting for more vaccines, the Sarasota Health Department is working with cities in Sarasota County for curbside vaccination sites that won’t disrupt traffic or cause the need for long-term parking. Although the health department is transitioning into curbside vaccinations, appointments will still be necessary through a new online Everbridge system.
The county launched the Everbridge registration system for curbside vaccine appointments. Beginning today, users can create an online account or by using the mobile app to register for an upcoming vaccine clinic. The Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County is sharing a “How to” video showing step-by-step registration through the new Everbridge system.
This is a different registration than the Everbridge event for COVID-testing. Residents who registered for the covid-testing alerts and are interested in vaccine information must complete a new registration.
Zina Jayne, manager of Elsie Quirk Library in Englewood, said anyone who needs computer access can come to the library to try to book an appointment.
“What’s so sad is we can work with people on the computer for a vaccination appointment, but they fill so quickly that we aren’t always successful,” Jayne said. “They can keep coming back. We understand people may not have internet access. We understand people want the vaccine and hopefully somewhere close to home.”
Spangler said the registration program is important to track each person who gets the first vaccination because they must have a second appointment for the final dose in the same county.
“We don’t just get to request the number of doses we want or need,” she said. “There’s a whole formula of how the state is given them by the federal government. We can see in our new system that we have 3,300 doses for this week. That number changed from last week. It’s not been the same number since Sarasota started receiving doses.”
Details on the new system are available at sarasota.floridahealth.gov.
For more information on registering for a shot or questions, call the Sarasota Health Department at 941-861-2900 or visit the websites above.