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COVID-19 vaccine now exceeds demand here with 90 percent of seniors over 65 vaccinated

STORY BY LISA ZAHNER (Week of April 22, 2021)

With nearly half of all county residents and 90 percent of seniors age 65 and older having received at least one COVID-19 shot, vaccine supply in Indian River County now outpaces demand.

“We’re having trouble filling appointments. We’ve got plenty of supply,” said Indian River County Emergency Services Director Chief Tad Stone.

State officials increased counties’ allocations of vaccine doses in April and nearly 1,200 shots per day can be administered by appointment here, but public health workers have run through the once-long waiting list of names. To reach more people, the county has for the past two Fridays offered walk-up, no-appointment-needed first-dose shots at the Indian River County Fairgrounds.

Provided that the weather cooperates, anyone age 18 or older wishing to get a first-dose vaccine can show up between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Friday, April 23 at the Fairgrounds. Heavy rains and lightning can cause the closure of the outdoor tent clinic, as happened on Monday when the county had to reschedule people with appointments for another day.

Those looking to get the shot should expect to have to read and sign forms when they arrive, and to stick around 15 to 30 minutes for observation after getting “the jab” as emergency medical help will be on-hand in case of a rare allergic reaction.

Stone said about one third of his firefighters and paramedics have been vaccinated. He’s got two people out sick currently with COVID-19, a vast improvement after a recent outbreak on one shift at one fire station that required some creative staffing during the quarantine period.

New COVID-19 infections among local residents held steady over the past week in Indian River County, with an average of 26 new cases per day, and the number of new weekly barrier island cases in the single digits.

The county’s COVID-19 positivity rate among people tested for the virus stayed below 8 percent every day for the past 14 days, and below 5 percent six out of the past 14 days.

Three people died from complications of COVID-19 over the past week, raising the county’s death toll to 290. Current hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients remained low this week with 10 people hospitalized as of press time Monday night. Emergency room visits for COVID-like illness recently dropped from 42 per week to 15 per week.

The wearing of masks – a controversial topic since the beginning of the pandemic – has been in the news once again in Florida.

Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran announced last week that schools shall have no mask mandates when kids start fall classes in August, and the Indian River County School Board voted to create a plan to phase out mandated masks.

Meanwhile, Gov. Ron DeSantis is upset about federal guidance that fully vaccinated people still need to wear masks and practice social distancing. DeSantis has repeatedly told vaccinated people to “act immune” as the vaccines promise protection from severe illness and death.

That advice is contrary to the latest CDC guidelines that advise fully vaccinated people to “still take steps to protect yourself and others in many situations, like wearing a mask, staying at least 6 feet apart from others, and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces.”