Publix pharmacies in Palm Beach County could be some of the next sites to offer the COVID-19 vaccine, officials said Tuesday.
Following a high-profile meeting with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in downtown West Palm Beach, Mayor Dave Kerner said the governor is looking at Palm Beach County as one of the first large counties in Florida to take part in a vaccine distribution plan at Publix.
"We have some very good insight on a distribution plan utilized at Publix. I'm gonna let the governor make those announcements as those plans are formalized," Kerner said. "We'll find out here shortly more details on the Publix distribution plan."
INTERVIEW WITH MAYOR KERNER:
Currently, Publix pharmacies in Marion, Citrus and Hernando counties are offering the COVID-19 vaccine to Florida residents who are 65 and older.
DeSantis announced Tuesday that effort is expanding to Publix stores in Escambia, Santa Rosa, Bay, Walton and Okaloosa counties as well.
"Publix was ready to go from the very beginning, and I think this is going to be really important as we continue our mission to put seniors first," DeSantis said during a news conference in Niceville.
Earlier on Tuesday, Palm Beach County health director Dr. Alina Alonso told commissioners that roughly 100,000 senior citizens have signed up to get vaccinated in the county, but Palm Beach County is only receiving around 4,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine per week.
Kerner said that could change once President-elect Joe Biden takes office, as the current Trump Administration has been holding doses of the vaccine in reserve.
"The Biden Administration, from what I understand, is contemplating sending all vaccines that are in their possession to each particular state, which would double that amount," Kerner said.
The mayor added he's "confident in the supply chain moving forward," saying DeSantis has made a commitment to improve the difficult vaccine appointment process in Palm Beach County.
"The governor is well aware at this point about the frustrations seniors in this county are facing," Kerner said. "He's aware now of how ready we are to jump in, whether it's phone lines, whether it's help with distribution at PODs or even at the Fairgrounds. We are ready. He's cognizant of that."
The Florida Department of Health in Palm Beach County is currently administering the COVID-19 vaccine to people 65 and older, health care workers with direct patient contact, long-term care facility residents and staff, and people deemed to be "extremely vulnerable to COVID-19 by hospital providers."
The only way you can request an appointment is by emailing the Florida Department of Health in Palm Beach County at firstname.lastname@example.org.
According to the latest numbers from health officials, Palm Beach County ranks third in the state for vaccinations given at 47,960. That only falls behind neighboring Broward County, where 56,187 people have been vaccinated, and Miami-Dade County, which has administered 76,436 shots.