You’d have thought Billy Joel was in town for a concert. “They got here at 7:40 pm.,” Gretchen Smith, the Flagler Health Department’s spokesperson, said of the first carload that arrived Friday night at the county fairgrounds, in anticipation for the coronavirus vaccination event the next day. That wasn’t to start for another 14 hours. “They had snacks, they had backgammon, she said it was a beautiful night, and then she said the next car came at 11 p.m.”
When a team of 70 health department staffers and volunteers from Flagler County Volunteer Services began vaccinating at around 9:15, the line of cars on County Road 13 was stretching all the way to U.S. 1, though there were just 600 vaccines to dispense today, with more coming next week: the health department is expecting its second shipment, this one of 500 vaccines, on Monday, and more vaccination days on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, or as supplies last.
By around noon, between 350 and 400 people had been vaccinated, most of them health care workers who don’t work at a local hospital or assisted living facility, or people who are 65 and over. Though the event was designed for health care workers primarily, the department said it would not turn away anyone 65 and over, in accordance with the governor’s order to place the priority on that age group.
Of those 350 to 400 vaccinated people, none signaled any form of distress as the vaccinated lined up in a field for 15 minutes of observation. Had there been trouble–an allergic reaction or anything else–they’d have honked, and health department staff would have rushed over with a rolling, metal cabinet of sorts containing anything necessary by way of immediate aid in case of a reaction, including an oxygen tank. But it sat all morning and into the afternoon unused, next to the team of health department staffers preparing shot after shot of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine.
The biggest issue was a stalled car. “We need jumper cables at Station Four, please,” the health department director said at one point into his portable radio.
Despite serious delays in the delivery of vaccine doses, chaos, disorganization, unanswered questions and uncertainty about when and where the next doses will arrive–the Trump administration shrugged off all delivery and logistical responsibilities to state and localities already overwhelmed by the pandemic–the event at the fairgrounds went off relatively smoothly, with more cheers and thumbs up than people being turned away. It was organized in haste by the health department and the county’s emergency management division, the double-barreled organizational system that’s managed the pandemic locally since March.
“At one point we hit U.S. 1, when that actually happened, we did a rough count of cars, and we actually told anyone that wasn’t in line already, we knew for sure they weren’t going to get vaccines,” Jonathan Lord, who heads emergency management and was at the fairgrounds, said around 11:30 a.m.
“We’ll probably get in all the people who have been lined up since this morning, because there were no more cars out there on 13,” Bob Snyder, the director of the health department, said at 11:30. (More cars would actually line up later on, but it wasn’t certain whether those car occupants would be inoculated.) “Today was the only day that we did not have appointments. It was specifically for health care workers, which is the majority of the people from what we can tell,” Snyder said. “We’ll be vaccinating 600 people before the day is out.”
When it started, the teams were managing to vaccinate five cars in 12 minutes. By noon, it was five cars in four minutes.
The process started at the first station with Lisa Sanchez and her team checking people’s identification–work ID showing they’re health care employees, or a driver’s license showing they’re over 65. No one was turned away, even if the person was from out of the county.
The wait was not short: with hundreds of cars in line, the health teams, organized in four stations at which motorists would stop in turn (one for paperwork, one for screening, one for the actual shots, one for the 15-minute wait), five carloads were processed every 12 minutes at the start of the event. But as was the case earlier this week when inoculations took place at the county’s Emergency Operations Center, the mood was more festive than apprehensive. There were no signs of impatience.
Starting next week, the county will have an online portal for people setting up their appointments. “Depending on the number of vaccines we definitely see on Monday,” Lord said (county and health officials have learned over the months never to count any Covid-related materiel until it’s in possession), “we’ll open up that many appointments. People will make an appointment, and then show up here at the time of their appointment.” The Eventbrite appointment site will not go live until the county gets the vaccines in hand.
People can also sign up for text-message alerts. People who did not get vaccinated today got a flier explaining how to get vaccine updates by signing up and texting “Flaglercovid” to 888-777.
“Once we’re out of slots based on the vaccines we’ll have to stop the appointments until the next rounds,” Lord said.
All this actually entails twice as much work: every recipient of the vaccine must get two shots–three weeks apart for the Moderna vaccine–for the inoculation to be effective. That means if all of Flagler’s adult population were vaccinated, local officials would have to be prepared to administer 200,000 shots. That puts today’s event in perspective: it was a very small example of what’s necessarily ahead.
Emergency and health department officials must contend with the emergency–and the fact that they’ve ended up shouldering much of the vaccination protocols–in addition to their usual responsibilities, and their ongoing Covid responsibilities.
“We’re in a situation where we need to keep public health services going throughout the week, and vaccinations and still community testing, case investigations, contact tracing, knowing that the month of January is going to be one of the roughest months for cases,” Snyder said.” So we’re doing all of these things all at the same time. So it’s a matter of prioritization. There’s a lot there. We have 20, 25 different programs right at the health department. So what we’ll do is we’ll keep emergency services going, the example would be pre-natal care, or just any emergent situation, like in our dental clinic. What we will do to make this vaccination assignment a priority and responsibility a priority, we might close non-emergent clinics during the day or during the afternoon, and then reschedule appointments going forward so that we have the personnel.”
As of today, the Flagler County Health Department has 90 staff members, 56 of them rank and file everyday staff, the rest added since the pandemic. The department is seeking to hire 10 to 12 more. “We’re just going to reassign job duties, reassign personnel to this vaccination effort, just like we did with community testing early on, because this is priority,” Snyder said.
Keep Flagler Beautiful says
Thanks for this coverage, FlaglerLive. I hope you’ll continue to follow it. I didn’t even know this vaccination opportunity was available to us. If you do receive instructions on how to make an appointment online for this coming week, could you please post it? Thank you.
We will be posting all vaccination information we can get. In the meantime it looks like the tex-alert system for Flagler vaccine information may be your most immediate bet, texting “Flaglercovid” to 888-777 will get you started. You can also text your email, and subsequently receive alerts by email.
Dr. George says
I can’t believe that 65’s and above were given vaccine today. I have been calling, texting, emailing everyone at the Dept of Health and Emergency management to try to fine out when we in Flagler County could get vaccinated. I signed up for alerts but I would like to know when we can make an APPOINTMENT! Please find out when the website (what it is) or phone number can be accessed.
gretchen Smith says
Dr. George, this event was designated for healthcare workers per the Governors Exec Order. People Over 65 showed up on their own and we did not turn them away. The call center for appointments is expected to open as soon as we confirm receipt of additional doses of vaccine.
Under what authority did you limit this event (designate) to health care workers – READ THE ORDER – it includes the mentioned health care workers AND those over 65 with no differentiation. No one, other than the Governor, has the authority to modify the Order.
@ Denali Below is an exert from the Governor, about the vaccine administration. The health depart followed the order. So no one modified the order as your claiming. I personally seen several people that were IMHO over the age of 65 while I was waiting in the line and moving through the line. So before you go and accuse someone of something get your facts straight.
STATE OF FLORIDA
OFFICE OF THE GOVERNOR
EXECUTIVE ORDER NUMBER 20-315
(COVID-19 Vaccine Administration/ Protecting Florida’s Seniors)
During this first phase of vaccine administration. all providers administering any COVID
19 vaccine shall only vaccinate the following populations:
• Long-term care facility residents and staff;
• Persons 65 years of age and older; and
• Health care perso1111el with direct patient contact.
Hospital providers, however, also may vaccinate persons who they deem to be extremely
vulnerable to COVID-1 9 .
DP – My facts are straight. I agree with your reprint of the Order, but that is not what the local health department tried to do at the Saturday event. That event was billed as being for health care workers only in several media releases. The fact that at the event they did vaccinate seniors was an apparent after-thought which was not advertised to the general public.
Honestly I don’t think they modified any order as you state. The order clearly states that anyone over the age of 65 shall be vaccinated first, even in the time period indicated for health care workers. If you really want to break it down and lay blame, then point the finger at the 65 YOA group for not following the order, or dismissing the fact that the event was as only you say ” EMS workers”. You know as well as I that people today, and back then don’t care what is mandated or ordered, They think for only themselves. You’d lay blame, blast, or ridicule the Heath Department, or the county if you found out they turned away someone who was in the age requirement’s. I’m glad they were able to accommodate those that did break the county’s order.
Midge grattan says
Looking for vaccine appt. 80year old. [email protected]
very upset that we were never informed 65y/o could get the vaccine today. My husband is scheduled for surgery and is 66 with risk factors and should have been able to get it today had it not been such a secret.
Willy Boy says
The information that Snyder gave to media specifically stated that you had to show proof of employment in a health care field in order to be vaccinated at the Sat. Special Event. I hope no health care providers were turned away because they gave some of the allotment people not in the health care field.
Snyder had no authority to modify the Governor’s order by limiting the vaccinations to health care workers. Read the Order, it is very clear. While I do not personally agree with the Governor’s Order, we must abide by it; to do otherwise is anarchy.
@ resident, There was no secret. If you know how to use the web, all you had to do was check the Health department web-site, or the County’s emergency services web-site, and there you would have found out about this event, You obliviously can find Flagler Live, and post, so I assume you know your way around the web?? . I’m sorry for your husbands surgery, and hope all go’s well for him during, but to be serious having the first shot Saturday would have not helped your husbands surgery. Without the second dose, and sometime to develop the possible therapeutic result’s of receiving the vaccine again would have done him no good. Unless his surgery was scheduled for later this year. Give the county and the health department time to get things in order, there will be enough to go around , and they ARE following the Governor’s orders.
The County Health Department says on their website that on the first day they offered the vaccine they put out information that the vaccine was available for healthcare workers; they did not state it was available for people 65+. So, my question was and is; off the record, how did the 65+ people get informed to get in line for the vaccines available that first day?
How do people who don’t have texting set up on their cell phones “text” e mail to receive e mail alerts. Those in charge need to know that not everyone has or does texting.
Bob Ziolkowski says
This is a good point – almost everyone has email but not everyone has texting abilities.
Unable to use this texting site. Is there a phone number to make an appointment?
Good luck. Today (mon) after the text we immediately called and it was just a busy signal n
Sergey Lopatnikov says
888-777 does not work
What do you mean?
Rowena Greer says
85 years old and would like to get vaccine
Frank Jean says
Flaglercovid provides not information on local vaccine registration. The local health department refers you to flaglerlive. It all seems rather circular. Given that they are vaccinating tomorrow morning, it would be helpful if a number or website was provided that actually took reservations.
Midge Grattan says
Looking to make appt for vaccine
As one of the first (47) cars to go thru the line. I arrived at around 0730 and the line was just into the turn lane to Sawgrass rd. It went seamless, the process was handled in the upmost professional manner. All stations/people were informative and helpful. Awsome job Flagler County Health Department, and Flagler County Emergency management.
God bless all the dedicated workers making this happen. It will be such a relief to see it ramping up as they get a better handle on it and more vaccines become available! THANK YOU ALL!!!
I will make an appointment for the Covid shot next week. Maybe fewer cars by then.
Fewer cars, good luck on that. Since everyone knows, its will be crazy full. Get there really early cause they only have so many vaccines.
Waiting for a call because my reservation was canceled. I’m staying home everyday because I don’t want to miss the call
Michaelyn Milidantri says
Good article. My husband and I showed up around 7:45 am, and the line was down CR13, by the ball parks. The police came and rerouted us through various parking lots to get as many cars as possible off of the main road. The county agencies and volunteers should be commended, as everything went very smoothly. We appreciate all their efforts.
Terri Belletto says
Congratulations to the Flagler Department of Health, Emergency Operations Team, and everyone involved in today’s event. They were organized, efficient, and friendly. Job well done by all. Thank You!
I was in this line this morning and got my vaccine but I was surprised to see one of the volunteers directing traffic not wearing a mask, speaking to people in cars without a mask and at one point he was vaping lol wtf?
Susan Price says
Flagler Live and the Flagler county emergency management HEROES did a fantastic job today! I was about number 60 in line, no issues, no complaints, everyone did an awesome job today, everyone with a smile! Many thanks to them and Flagler Live for putting out the info first!
Kudos to all involved with today’s event! I happily waited nearly 4 hours, it was very well organized & lots of smiling faces! Great job Flagler County Health Department 👍🏼
Elizabeth Hession says
text me when i can make a reservation please
Lance Carroll says
Good luck to everyone that has been innoculated. Good luck to everyone involved. I look forward to all factors involved in Covid vaccinations being documented for the public at large.
How did these people that got in line for the vaccine get informed to get in line for the vaccine? There was absolutely no information put out about this. What the heck is going on here in Flagler County. As the say goes, “Something is rotten in Flagler County.”
A Concerned Observer says
Well Lynette, this dispersal was for healthcare workers and not the general public so I must assume their employers were notified, who in turn, would have notified their employees. You do not say if you belong to one of the first groups to be vaccinated ahead of the public in general but if you are a healthcare worker and were not informed I would address your employer. The health department workers at the venue did choose to vaccinate those overanxious few in line that were not medical professionals but were over 65 however even though they were not in the targeted group. Please read the full article to learn how you can be notified of future vaccination events. Providing COVID- 19 vaccinations to everyone who desires one is a herculean task. I’ve worked with these dedicated folks on earlier testing venues and can attest to their integrity and overwhelming desire to do everything within their power to help everyone they can. There is NOTHING rotten in Flagler County. Just count yourself lucky that you don’t live in Miami, Palm Beach or Orange County…
I am in the 65+ age group. I have a health issue that raises my risk level, also. There was absolutely no notification to the public that 65+ could get in line for the vaccine. How did those 65+, that were in line, know about this site being setup and open? That is my reason for saying, “Something is rotten in Flagler County.”
Lynette – until the local health departments can get their poop in a group, you will need to proactively prowl the media for information on vaccination sites and appointments. Do not limit yourself to Flagler County. By the way – the Saturday event was noticed in Flagler Live, the Daytona press and Orlando media.
Keep in mind that none of the health departments are making appointments right this minute. Many will open then appointment websites AFTER they receive their next allotment of vaccines and can coordinate administration facilities. Do your research – some agencies have set up text hotlines to provide notice when appointments will open.
Why isn’t the county putting this information out on their website. Isn’t this the reason the citizens of Flagler County pay their taxes faithfully to get excellent service from the county? If their services were ever needed it is now.
I registered on CDR HealthPro Community
When I went on the website to make an appointment it said: Site will be available soon.
I did not see any announcement on FlagLive that this vaccine site was setup and open for people 65+ and older.
Carol Gunthorpe says
I agree and furthermore numbers for Health Department and Emergency Management useless. Not everyone has texting ability. Poor planning on behalf of leadership.They may be giving out the vaccine smoothly but that is only part of the equation.
Concerned Observer – Please cite the specific language contained in the Governor’s Order which allows a local heath department to decide who is to receive the vaccine? I cannot find that provision. The only permissive language I see has to do with allowing hospitals a discretionary authority to vaccinate certain folks outside the target groups.
Your classifying non-medical seniors who desired to obtain a vaccination as “overanxious” is unwarranted and quite rude. They were completely within their rights and operating under the guidelines issued by Gov. DeSantis.
Regardless of the size of the task involved or the dedication of those doing the actual injections and support, someone in the management of our Flagler Health Department took the law into their own hands and consciously made a decision to prioritize health care workers over the 65 and older population. This was in direct violation of the Governor’s Order.
So YES, there is something rotten in Flagler County.
Under full disclosure, I do not agree with the Governor’s Order but, I do believe that his order carries the weight of law.
Jane Gentile-Youd says
You bet something is rotten. No notice so obvious that this was an inside job.
The vaccine quantities sent to Flagler County are based on the number of Residents . We are losing 2 doses per non resident..shot 1 and then shot 2 while most of us over 65 got shafted.
I suggest any over 65 Flagler resident who had no idea about this secret give away of OUR allotment contact the Health Department and our own emergency management director Jonathan Lord and demand an explanation
A a true patriot says
We can thank President Trump’s leadership on getting multiple vaccines out in record time. All the left media was saying it would be impossible. What a great president.
Billy C says
Stop the foolishness. Trump handed the ball to the States and our equally inept Governor handed the ball to the counties. Lake County had a disastrous kickoff of their vaccine program two days ago so the kudos for the program and it being well run here in Flagler should go to the planners and local participants not your Golfer-in-Chief.
Did you really just say 600 vaccines? This is digusting and almost worthless. A drop in the bucket and these 600 still need a second shot to even be protected. They are saying 10 years before 80% of the population will vaccinated. We are in for a long long haul of staying home and wearing masks. Buckle up people
Lets see, Nearly 33 percent of Flagler County’s 110,510 residents are age 65 and older, so get there early.
What about a 64 yr old with severe Immunodeficiency Disorder supposed to do? I have yet to find one doctor, hospital, or county official who will tell me what to do to get the vaccine ASAP. I have a bulls eye painted on me. Can’t leave the house, no visitors. Can someone PLEASE answer my question???
A Concerned Observer says
Well MRC, there had to be a line drawn somewhere. Our Governor decided to set the bar at 65 year old citizens, which is below the 75 year old age group that was stated by the CDC and unfortunately, you do not meet that criteria. Everyone out there is frightened by this pandemic, as well they should be and I do not wish to demean your particular medical condition. Human nature being what it is, there are many out there that believe they are due special consideration for their own particular set of circumstances. Every possible permutation of medical conditions, socioeconomic groups or whatever set of circumstances possible simply cannot be accommodated to everyone’s satisfaction. Please wear your mask, maintain social distancing, go out only when necessary and wait in line politely with everyone else.
Concerned Citizen – You obviously have not read the Governor’s Order. The Order allows hospitals discretionary authority in administration of the vaccine; “Hospital providers, however, also may vaccinate persons who they deem to be extremely vulnerable to COVID-19”. https://www.flgov.com/wp-content/uploads/orders/2020/EO_20-315.pdf Please do not add to the already confused waters with non-facts.
MRC – Please contact your physician for assistance. If they feel you should be given special consideration under the Governor;s Order then start contacting hospitals. Do not stop with Advent Palm Coast, try Flagler up in St. Augustine or the several hospitals in the Daytona area. Try Orlando. You do not have to be a resident of a county to receive a vaccination. You must become proactive in your medical care – no one is going to go out of their way to help you without you making your case.
Willy Boy says
“person who they deem to be extremely vulnerable” – Hasn’t the CDC indicated that Afro Americans meet that criterion?
Little White Lie says
I’m in the same situation as you. Since I’m NOT a Christian, I LIED and said I was 65. When they looked at the ID, I said its because my birthday falls in Dec at the end of the year so I’m 65…. She fell for it !!!!!
Little white lie , the most deplorable selfish cowards would lie about their age to skip the vulnerable and elderly. You should feel absolutley ashamed of your cowardly actions. Where are the morals and bravery in these times? Do people have no shame to the point thet would go online and brag about stealing someone vaccine by lying!?
Tell DeSantis. I’m sure he cares a lot.
Vincent A. Liguori says
To: The Flagler County Department of Health. Vaccination effort poorly planned. No phone number for appointments-yet. No appointment instructions. No alternate vaccination sites-ie, Palm Coast community center, library, firehouses, county administrative complex etc. Select Publix pharmacies given vaccines-none in our area ? Who dropped the ball?
We are two couples two in mid 70s and above, two near and at 80 years old in Flagler Beach. Would like information on vaccinations appointments for use. We cannot stand on line waiting for vaccine. Shouldn’t the Flagler County Health Department set up appointments for us. They should have information on most if not all people. People in their 70s, 80s and 90s should not stand on line.
Billy C says
I agree. Their have to be Medicare/Medicare or Health Dept databases that identify every person over 70 in the county. Why not let them get shots at their health care provider? The lines could be cut shorter if the groupings were given separate vaccination sites. CVS/Walgreen’s etc. Just an idea. I agree that 70+ people shouldn’t have to stand/sit in line just like they shouldn’t have to stand in line to vote.
Its a freaking shame in this day and age of technology, that appointments cannot be scheduled, instead of people having to drive to a location and “take a darn chance ‘, give me a break. Its not just here in this county its all over the United States,. Have our local and state governments gone back into the dark ages, yep it appears so. BUT with the total failure of the unemployment funds do to covid, I can see how lame our tech is. Come get your head out of your asses and be for once techy.
We applaude you Bob Snyder for defying rhe crioked Govenors orders and attemoting to protect our medical workers first. All the greedy cowards trying to sneek in before the health care workers should be ashamed. They reserve a special spot in hell for people like you.
Thank you for providing this information! I signed up for the text alerts as soon as the county started that the other day, and I was notified a few hours ago that vaccination appointments were available online. I successfully made an appointment for myself as well as my father-in-law for later this week. I am looking forward to getting this done!
Can non-residents of the county or state make a reservation for a vaccination?
No one who fits the current criteria of eligibility may be turned away regardless of county or state residency.