WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Calling it "positive" news in the painstaking effort to administer the COVID-19 vaccine to as many people as possible, Palm Beach County's health director says the county is starting to receive a larger supply of the vaccine.
This falls in line with Florida as a whole, which is getting around 40,000 additional doses of the vaccine from the federal government this week.
Speaking to county commissioners on Tuesday, Dr. Alina Alonso said the Florida Department of Health in Palm Beach County and the Health Care District of Palm Beach County are receiving a combined 9,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine this week.
Because of that, both agencies will be able to continue administering first doses beyond Feb. 5 to people who are currently on a county waiting list.
"We persisted," Alonso said. "Continuing to say, we need the vaccine, we need the vaccine. And we did get some of that allotment sent to us, so we're very happy about that."
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Despite that reassuring news, Alonso said Palm Beach County still needs a greater and more consistent supply of vaccine before it can launch mass vaccination centers, community points of distribution, mobile units, and strike teams.
"We still have limited vaccine coming in," Alonso said. "We still have a little bit more to go before that vaccine gets rolling."
The health director said she anticipates that enough vaccine will be available to begin inoculating the general public in late spring or summer.
"We need to keep those expectations realistic and continue to realize that it's a matter of supply and demand," Alonso said.
According to the latest numbers from the Florida Department of Health, 160,905 people have received the COVID-19 vaccine in Palm Beach County, which is second only to Miami-Dade County where 177,673 people have been vaccinated.
Health officials said Tuesday that Palm Beach County is not participating in a new statewide vaccine appointment system at this point, citing a lack of supply and because the county still has a backlog of people who are due to receive their shots from the health department and Health Care District.
"We still have people that are waiting to get a vaccine from the first group of our waiting list. And we promised those people that they would be taken in order," Alonso said. "We will be ready to start utilizing that [statewide] list as soon as we finish with our original list."
Keep in mind that Palm Beach County residents can still use the Sharecare system to register for the vaccine. However, you'll have to get vaccinated in another county.
Florida residents who are 65 and older, health care personnel with direct patient contact, long-term care facility residents and staff, and those deemed to be "extremely vulnerable to COVID-19 by hospital providers" can register for a COVID-19 vaccine appointment through Sharecare by clicking here.
Darcy Davis, the CEO of the Health Care District of Palm Beach County, said it will likely be four to six weeks before the Health Care District makes its way through the Department of Health’s waitlist and Palm Beach County is able to take part in the Health Care District’s vaccination appointment system.
Publix continues to remain the main distributor of the vaccine in Palm Beach County.
The next window to make appointments at Publix will open on Wednesday at 6 a.m. To make an appointment, click here.