Note: In anticipation of stormy weather this weekend, the Flagler Health Department is postponing all second dose Covid-19 appointments for Monday, April 19. The health department’s call center is contacting everyone scheduled with options to rebook their appointments. These options include Saturday, April 24 at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church in Palm Coast, Monday, April 26 at the Flagler County Fairgrounds, and Tuesday, April 27 at the Flagler County Fairgrounds. For more information, please call 386-437-7350 ext. O.
For the first time since the December rollout of vaccines in the country and in Flagler, supply is exceeding demand as the county crosses the 40 percent threshold of those who have received at least one coronavirus vaccine and nears 80 percent for those 65 and over.
But the deaths attributed to covid in Flagler County jumped by six in the last two weeks, to 105. (More than 564,000 people have died of the disease nationwide.) Weekly covid infections, after remaining stubbornly high, in the 160 range, for three weeks in a row, fell to 112 in the week ending April 10, but covid-related hospitalizations have risen somewhat again–back to double digits this wee: there were between six and eight people hospitalized at AdventHealth Palm Coast on most days since the beginning of April, but starting ion the middle of this week, the number rose to 10, and to 12 today.
The Flagler County Health Department and Flagler Emergency Services are shifting to a new approach, away from single-site vaccination locations to fanning out into the community–to companies, restaurants and the like. They’re also making vaccines available for children 16 and 17 for the first time, at a day-long vaccine clinic at the county’s Emergency Operations Center on April 23.
And they’re addressing concerns about such things as the Johnson & Johnson vaccine “pause,” which has spooked some people, but disproportionately to the actual issues in play: the vaccine remains largely safe, if with acknowledged caveats. (Palm Coast Mayor Milissa Holland was among those scheduled to get the J&J shot–and was delayed.)
“It’s a very unusual type of blood clotting that you just don’t see in general population,” Dr. Stephen Bickel, the medical director at the Flagler Health Department, said. “So it’s probably real, it’s looking like one in a million cases right now, so extremely rare, but pretty dangerous.” He added: “It also highlights the incredible safety of the mRNA vaccine. The Magellan is Pfizer where you know 100 million, and, and nothing like this is showing up.”
Maximum inoculation has always been a goal in Flagler. But the push is fueled as much by a strategy to stay ahead of one of covid-19’s spreading variant, now very prevalent in Florida and more infectious than its predecessor, as by a boosting desire to edge the county to the top of the vaccine chart in Florida. Flagler is now between seventh and eighth place, toggling there week after week with Martin County.
“Our goal is for Flagler County to be number one in the state for percent of population vaccinated, “Bob Snyder, the director of the Flagler County Health Department, said today. “We are on our way: 47,357 people have been vaccinated. That reflects 41 percent of our residents, 77 percent of those over the age of 65 have been vaccinated, and guess what: supply is now exceeding demand.”
So the department, looking to keep the momentum going, is changing its approach. “We’re going to be closing down our big fairgrounds site in a couple of weeks,” Snyder said, referring to the site off County Road 13 where major vaccination operations have unfolded since January, involving scores of Health Department staff and volunteers, “and we’re going to be transitioning to what we call phase two. We’re going to be tripling the number of mobile sites that we’re at throughout the community so that we can just fan across Flagler County. We were at 13 sites last week, 10 different sites in addition to the fairgrounds this week.”
Phase Two will entail going directly to companies. Coastal Cloud is, not surprisingly, an early taker: the Hammock-based company has been at the forefront of the vaccine rollout, providing technological backbone to the state’s databases. The department will also be going to bars and restaurants, encouraging staffers and their families ages 18 and up to get a shot. The department will be taking over a school gym to continue inoculating school staff. “It’s open season now over the age of 18 you’re eligible to get that vaccine,” Snyder said. There’ll also be free vaccines at Food Truck Tuesday, Palm Coast’s monthly event at Town center, near City Hall–the next being this coming April 20 from 5 to 8 p.m. (See the link here.)
Starting on Sundays—the first Sunday being April 25, “we’re going to be doing vaccinations from 10 a.m. to 12 noon at the airport,” Gretchen Smith, the health department’s spokesperson, said. And starting on April 28 and 29, there will be free, no-appointment vaccinations on Wednesdays and Thursdays at the same location from 4 to 7 p.m. “It’s going to be free vaccinations across from 120 Airport Road, no appointments needed, and come on Flagler, don’t be holdouts. Let’s get vaccinated.”
Over the past few weeks Emergency Management’s Jonathan Lord worked with FlaglerHealth Plus, the St. Augustine hospital, to secure 800 Pfizer vaccine shots for distribution in Flagler. Until now, the health department’s shots have been all Moderna. The difference: Pfizer’s are approved for children as young as 16. On Wednesday, the school district disseminated an announcement to all students and families interested in getting vaccinated. The clinic is open to all people ages 16 and over, not just to those 16 and 17.
The clinic will be from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at EOC, behind the Government Services Center in Bunnell. The shots are by appointments, but plenty of bookings are available here. (You may also choose other adult-only locations at the county’s covid-vaccine page here.) The department will also have vaccination clinics at the Flagler County Executive Airport after hours for working people.
As of Wednesday, 200 people had booked a shot, Lord said.
The Pfizer vaccine, like Moderna, requires two shots. The second shot will be administered at a three week interval, in the same location, at the same time that the first shot was administered, with county paramedics doing much of the inoculations.
“Again, 41 percent of our residents have gotten a shot,” Snyder said. “So we want to move that up to that 80, 90 percent range with your help, so we’re going to be blitzing the community to get everyone vaccinated here in Flagler County.”
And Phase Three? That’ll be a neighborhood-to-neighborhood vaccination van. Instead of selling ice cream, the van will be offering free vaccines, though that won’t be for at least two to three months. “I mean we want to be able to catch every one that we can and like for phase two, if it’s 10 people here and there, eight, none here, 25 there, it is okay. It’s all going to add up.”
As for the variants of the covid-19 virus, Bickel said there is less to be concerned about in that regard: the UK variant spreads faster but is “just as sensitive to the vaccine, so that’s another reason to get vaccinated.”
Here are the latest numbers:
In Flagler as of today, 47,357 people had received at least one shot, which equates to 41.2 percent of the population, or nearly 50 percent of the adult population. Flagler has 36,455 people 65 and over, according to the latest Census figures. Of those, 28,200, or 77 percent, have received at least one shot, and 23,364,64.1 percent, have received both shots.
In Florida, 7.8 million people have received at least one shot, or well over a third of the population, and 4.9 million have received both shots, or 22.8 percent. Among those 65 and over, 3.56 million of the state’s older population of 4.89 million has had at least one shot, or 72.8 percent, and 2.84 million, or 58.1 percent have completed their shots.
A total of 12.2 million doses have been administered statewide.
As of today–April 16–about 127.7 million people have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine nationally, according to the Centers for Disease Control, and 80.6 million have been fully vaccinated.
The nation was inoculating just under 200,000 people per day in late December and 1.6 million on March 1. The seven-day average is now 3.35 million shots per day. President Biden had pledged to have 100 million shots administered by his 100th day in office. The goal was reached six weeks early. At the current pace, with 38 percent of the population partly or fully vaccinated, 70 percent will be partly or fully vaccinated by June 11, and 90 percent by July 16, assuming people don’t become shot-shy.
- Coronavirus Vaccination Worldwide
- The latest Flagler and Florida vaccination report
- CDC Covid vaccine data tracker
- The Feb. 23 vaccine update