COVID-19 vaccine

Despite the addition of distribution sites for the COVID-19 vaccine, Florida’s crush in demand has made it difficult to land a coveted appointment.

Locally, there’s hope that a planned statewide appointment system, and more doses, will ease what’s been a frustrating process for seniors and local officials trying to get the vaccine to them.  

WUWF File photo

The federal government is mostly to blame for what some people see as a slow distribution of COVID-19 vaccines in Florida, state Division of Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz told a House panel Thursday. 

Appearing before the newly created House Pandemics and Public Emergencies Committee, Moskowitz said the federal government has been slow in releasing enough supply to Florida to meet demand.

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.

VA Gulf Coast Veterans Health Care System

A Veteran receiving care through the Joint Ambulatory Care Center (JACC) in Pensacola received the first dose of the COVID vaccine administered by the Gulf Coast Veterans Health Care System (GCVHCS).

According to a press release from VA Gulf Coast Veterans Health Care System, Joe L. Knight is a retired U.S. Army Veteran who served in the Korean War and three tours in Vietnam. He was the first non-employee Veteran in the Pensacola, Florida, area to receive the Moderna COVID-19 vaccination through the agency. 

City of Pensacola

As the number of coronavirus cases continue to climb, Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson is out with a repeat of restrictions within the city limits.

Speaking at his weekly virtual news conference, the mayor said it’s being made necessary by a “fairly significant” jump in positivity and hospitalizations over the past few days.

Office of the Secretary of Defense

In his first virtual news conference of 2021, Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinin disclosed his bout with COVID-19 during the holidays. Meantime, statewide vaccine distribution in Florida is beginning to ramp up.

Robinson announced that he was exposed to the coronavirus four days before Christmas by his son, who unknowingly brought it with him from law school.

Linda Dunwoody/Ascension Sacred Heart

Governor Ron DeSantis stopped by Ascension Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola Wednesday morning to update the community on Florida’s supply of COVID-19 vaccines and discuss priorities for distribution to the state’s senior citizens.

DeSantis feels so strongly about putting elders at the head of the line, after frontline healthcare workers, that he decided to put it in writing.

Christmas came early at Bay Breeze Senior Living and Rehabilitation Center in Gulf Breeze as residents and staff got the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine Tuesday morning. 

Joe Rich, pharmacist at the Gulf Breeze CVS just down the road, administered the vaccine to a staff member and resident outside the facility — the first doses in Gulf Breeze. After each shot, staff cheered. 

“I didn’t feel a thing,” said 91-year-old Eileen Costello. 

Costello said she’s been watching CNN and following the news around the vaccine. She had no reservations about getting it.