Shot in the arm

Clay residents now receiving Moderna vaccine for COVID-19

By Wesley LeBlanc wesley@opcfla.com
Posted 1/6/21

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – Vaccines against the COVID-19 virus are now being distributed in the county and the excitement from the first residents to receive was palpable on Day 1.

The county opened …

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Shot in the arm

Clay residents now receiving Moderna vaccine for COVID-19

Posted

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – Vaccines against the COVID-19 virus are now being distributed in the county and the excitement from the first residents to receive was palpable on Day 1.

The county opened up its appointment website last week and in a matter of hours, the first 3,000 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccines were accounted for by ready residents. The first eight doses were given to patients during their 9 a.m. appointment time and every 15 minutes at the UF/IFAS Extension Clay County T. Jesse Godbold Building at 2463 State Road 16 right next to the agricultural fairgrounds. The excitement among patients was tangible.

“This was so smooth,” one patient leaving the facility randomly said to the media box set up just outside the building.

That was a sentiment echoed by many patients leaving the facility after receiving their inoculations. Many said they were excited to have the first dose of the vaccine – and how smoothly Clay County handled the process.

Paul Safer received his vaccine around 9:45 a.m. and he was surprised by the painlessly easy process.

“It was extremely well-organized,” Safer said. “It was painless and very easy.”

Safer said he didn’t really have any concerns about the Moderna vaccine going into his appointment, and he didn’t have any adverse side effects afterward. Florida Department of Health administrator and county lead on the vaccine process, Heather Huffman, said patients are instructed to wait around for 15 minutes after the shot to ensure they don’t have any worrisome side effects.

One question many had after the initial appointments went up last week was about how the second dose rollout would work. Huffman said those that get their first dose will have their second dose appointment set up during their first visit. Safer said his second dose was automatically set for ay for the same exact time 28 days later on Feb. 1.

The first 3,000 doses spanning from Jan. 4 to Jan. 20 are already accounted for and went exclusively to frontline healthcare workers and those 65 or older.

The vaccines are open to anyone that falls within those two categories regardless of whether they live in Clay County or not, according to emergency management director John Ward, and that’s because it’s a federal operation.

Ward asks that those with appointments show up no earlier than 15 minutes to their appointments and that they bring identification. He said that once more doses come in, additional appointments will open up and that those looking to schedule an appointment should keep an eye on official county social media and alert.claycountygov.com. There will be no lottery system or callback system for those appointments – it’s first come, first serve.

Ward said the county is administering an average of 200 a day, or 1,000 a week, for the next three weeks, which accounts for the initial doses. He and Huffman expect additional appointments to go live this week and the two hope to see private pharmacies like Walmart, Walgreens, Publix and CVS to receive vaccines soon, which will help alleviate the stress of finding an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccine dose somewhere in Clay County.

“In the coming weeks, our capacity will move from 200 a day to 400 a day,” Huffman said. “Half of those doses will be second doses for those that already received their first and the other half will be for first doses. We just ask for patience from everyone as we work to get these doses out while following [the governor’s orders].”

County Manager Howard Wanamaker said Monday the vaccine process’ smoothness comes from the hard work of the many involved partners like the Board of County Commissioners, the health department, emergency services and the Clay County Sheriff’s Office.

“There is light at the end of the tunnel,” Wanamaker said. “The future is once again looking bright for our county, communities, family and businesses. We must all continue to work to do our part to protect and take care of each other.”

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