The Sarasota County Department of Health hosted a question-and-answer session Friday on COVID-19.
The Health Department is the lead on COVID-19 vaccines for Sarasota County.
Governments, hospitals and some businesses are cooperating with efforts to get more of the vaccine out once it’s available.
The Daily Sun inquired about vaccines and distribution. Sarasota County Health Department Steve Huard responded.
Are there plans for a South County sites for vaccines for example at the Englewood Sports Complex, CoolToday Park, the North Port Health Department or the North Port ER?
“We are looking to establishing a drive-thru location. That will likely be a primary site which is central to the community and central in the county. Both the city of North Port and Venice have identified potential locations when we are ready. Additionally, as more vaccine becomes available in the community, we plan to host pop-up vaccinations clinics throughout the county as we did with COVID-19 testing some months ago. Those events will include South County.”
Are there any restrictions for going to a certain site?
“No, we don’t have the ability to restrict people from other parts of the community from registering for vaccinations clinics anywhere in the county. In other words, until there’s enough vaccine in the community, we could host an event in South County that is predominately attended by those who live in North County — or other counties for that matter.”
How many vaccines were distributed so far and when will a new shipment come in?
“About 21,000 have received the COVID vaccine. DOH Sarasota has been focusing our efforts this week on front-line health care workers. We exhausted our vaccine supply today (Friday). We are expecting to receive an allocation for a shipment next week. We have not been given a date or the amount. We are closed Monday for the holiday. We will get the information out (through the Sarasota County Department of Health website and the media) as it comes available.”
Can snowbirds get the vaccine?
“We’ve been getting a lot of questions about snowbirds and non-residents, people visiting our community. They eat at the restaurants and shop at the same stores. They live the same life we live here. So it’s important that we offer that vaccine up to everyone because it just helps our community be more prepared, be more protected against COVID.”
When will there be drive-thru locations?
“We are moving away from clinical operations here at our Ringling (Boulevard site in Sarasota). In the next vaccination clinics, you should see drive-thru locations. As the vaccine becomes available next week, we will get that information out to the community. We continue to work with our state and county partners on a scheduling appointment for Sarasota County. We hope to launch it early next week.”
What’s the difference between the first dose of the vaccine and the second dose?
“The important things to know about the second dose is it has to be from the same lot that you got the first one. So if you got a Pfizer vaccine first, you have to stick with Pfizer for the second dose. If you got a Moderna vaccine you have to get Moderna the second time. Those are already allocated for each person who has already gotten the first does. The key here is the second dose is a booster. The first dose gives you a level of protection of 85% and the second dose is what bumps up your immunity to above 90%.”
If you got your vaccine in Sarasota County, do you have to get the second dose here?
“If you got your vaccination from the DOH in Sarasota County or at Sarasota Memorial Hospital, you need to get your second dose here because it’s already been earmarked for you. However, there are about 2,400 people who already received the vaccine and had an appointment to come back for the second dose in 28 days. Those appointments were canceled because they are being moved to a drive through location once they are established.
Do you have to get the second dose 28 days later or can you wait longer?
“The 28-day mark is the first day Moderna says you should get a second dose. The scientific data says if the dose comes within one week of the 28th day, it’s OK. The reality is it is a booster shot. If the second dose comes even days later, it’s not going to effect you in such a way that you have to get the first dose all over again.”
Are there any vaccine scams we should know about impacting victims?
“We haven’t heard any of vaccine scams in our county. However be very careful when making appointments. If there’s a charge, it is a hoax or a scam. The Department of Health is not charging for the vaccine. The county or state will not ask for money. To make an appointment, it’s best to use the Department of Health’s website.”