Florida’s coronavirus vaccination program for Floridians 65 and older at Publix supermarkets downstate, is being expanded to the western Panhandle.
The first reservations are being taken on Wednesday.
“Okaloosa, Santa Rosa and Escambia – we think we got it right by prioritizing seniors first; we’re going to continue to do it and as we get more doses, we’re going to be able to do even more,” said the governor in Niceville Tuesday.
“There are seven Publixes in Okaloosa who will be accepting reservations and starting to do shots on Thursday,” said DeSantis. “There are five in Santa Rosa County; and there are six in Escambia County. Each Publix can do between 100 to 125 shots a day.”
The Florida Department of Health reports more than 11,000 new cases statewide on Monday, driving the seven-day average to about 15,000 per day — about 40% higher than the previous peak of 11,000 reached in July. More than 7,600 people hospitalized in Florida, with about 140 coronavirus deaths per day over the last week.
“Putting seniors first was the right decision, contended DeSantis. “If you look at Florida, in terms of the number of shots that we have for senior citizens, we are leading the country by a country mile.”
DeSantis also had a couple of ground rules — the vaccinations are by appointment only, and only at the designated Publix pharmacies.
“That’s [sic] a lot of stores, but it may not be offered by every single Publix in those three counties,” the governor said. “So don’t just show up; make the plans to get there. If you do just show up unannounced, what they’ll do is they’ll just provide you the information in terms of how to sign up. They have to do it this way, we want it to be orderly. We want people to be able to get in and out.”
Our initial pilot with @Publix was so successful that I am excited to announce Florida is expanding our partnership into 26 additional Publix pharmacies in 5 counties in NWFL.
☑️6 in Escambia
☑️5 in Santa Rosa
☑️5 in Bay
☑️3 in Walton
☑️7 in Okaloosa
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) January 12, 2021
Publix, in partnership with the state, began offering the COVID-19 shots last week at 22 stores in Marion, Citrus and Hernando counties.
“I was able to go this weekend to Hernando County and watch what they were doing,” DeSantis said. “Publix has done a great job with this; we knew they would. But because they’ve done such a good job, we are now expanding the footprint.”
The availability of the vaccine at Publix outlets in Florida, says the governor, provides another layer of convenience for those seeking the shots.
“Not everyone wants to go to a hospital; not everyone can drive across town to go to a big drive-through test site. Elderly people – we need to do what we can to get it in their communities,” said the governor.
The CDC vaccine tracker shows that almost 25.5 million doses of vaccine have been distributed nationwide, as of January 11th, with more than 1.6 million doses sent to Florida. And Uncle Sam is already talking about releasing more vaccine in the coming days.
“We’ve got 250,000 doses that arrived [Monday and Tuesday], and those will definitely be given out in the next seven days,” said DeSantis. “And so, if you give us more, we’re going to be able to do more. From the drive-through test sites, to the county health [departments], to the hospitals to Publix to houses of worship. You’re seeing more and more people get the vaccine.”
As of Monday, the Department of Health reported that about 650,000 vaccinations were provided across the state. Information on the Publix program and how to sign up can be found at www.publix.com/covidvaccine.