SARASOTA, FL — The Department of Health in Sarasota hit capacity within minutes of opening registration for an upcoming free coronavirus vaccination clinic Sunday.
Registration opened for the clinic, which is scheduled for Monday at the William L. Little Health and Human Services building at 2200 Ringling Blvd. in Sarasota, at 3:30 p.m. Before 4 p.m., registration reached capacity and all 800 available time slots had been filled.
Vaccines are currently being offered to frontline health care workers and seniors 65 and older only. This is in accordance with an executive order from Gov. Ron DeSantis’ that says the first vaccines in Florida will be administered to long-term care facility residents and staff, people 65 and older, and health care workers with direct patient contact, according to a DOH news release. Hospitals may also vaccinate people deemed to be extremely vulnerable to COVID-19.
This order departs from vaccine distribution guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
This is the third round of coronavirus vaccination appointments offered by the DOH in Sarasota since it received a shipment of 3,500 Moderna vaccine doses a week ago. Each time, the appointments filled up in less than an hour.
On Tuesday, the DOH offered appointments for Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday, about 400 vaccinations each day. Then, on Wednesday, the department registered individuals for another 400 vaccinations on New Year’s Eve.
At Monday’s vaccination clinic, the DOH will distribute the last of Sarasota County’s initial shipment of vaccines, Charles Henry, health officer, said at a press conference Wednesday. He anticipates that the county will receive additional doses this week, though.
He also asks for patience from the public as the distribution process moves forward.
“Our goal is to get vaccines out to individuals as quickly as we can,” Henry said. “We understand the frustration around the whole process.”
Around 37 percent of Sarasota County’s population is 65 and older, he added. With around 400 vaccination slots at a time, “they fill up in minutes. The demand is tremendous. We’re asking the public to remain patient.”
As the process gets easier, the state will launch a new registration system for appointments, Henry said. The county will also host drive-through vaccination events at various locations when more doses are delivered.
Though dates and times for the next round of coronavirus vaccine appointments in Sarasota County haven't been released yet, residents can sign up for the county's emergency alert system by texting "SRQCOVID19" to 888777. The county will send text alerts when vaccination registration is available.
Florida has launched a COVID-19 Vaccine Report that will be updated daily at www.FloridaHealthCOVID19.gov. This report includes a breakdown of who has received the vaccine by age, race, sex and county.
For more information about coronavirus and its vaccinations in Sarasota County, visit www.SarasotaHealth.org.