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Nearly 80 percent of county seniors have received jab

STORY BY LISA ZAHNER (Week of March 18, 2021)

With more than 1,100 shots in arms per day on average in Indian River County over the past week, nearly 80 percent of the county’s 53,000 seniors 65 and older have now received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

Those vaccination efforts – which opened up to those age 60 and older on Monday – are presumably keeping the new infection count low, as for the second week in a row the average number of reported infections has been 24 per day.

The barrier island accounted for 13 out of the county’s 156 new cases during the past week.

In other good news, the daily case positivity rate only ventured above 5 percent two out of the past 14 days, with the highest rate being 5.17 percent on March 7 and the lowest being 2.66 percent on March 5. The daily hospitalization rate remained in the teens as of press time Monday, a fraction of the 50-plus people in the daily hospital census during the post-Christmas holiday surge.

About 300 of the 7,000-plus people vaccinated last week received the Johnson & Johnson-Janssen Biotech vaccine, as Publix began receiving the single-dose shot on March 10. The one-shot vaccine also was administered at a four-day, pop-up vaccination site at Concordia Lutheran Church in Barefoot Bay, just a few miles’ drive into Brevard County.

Gov. Ron DeSantis said Florida has been having some issues getting restocked with the J&J vaccine after the first shipments rolled out, but that he hoped supply would flow better in the coming weeks.

A pilot vaccine program at Walgreens and CVS pharmacies was launched last week in selected counties, to be expanded statewide soon as those companies phase out of the initial push to vaccinate nursing home and assisted-living residents and enter into the broader effort to vaccinate other eligible adults.

A limited number of Target stores also joined in via the Federal Pharmacy Program to meet federal goals of having enough vaccine supply to make every adult in the United States eligible for COVID-19 vaccination by May 1.

Eight Publix pharmacies, the South Vero Winn-Dixie pharmacy, the two Vero Wal-Mart pharmacies, the Health Department vaccine clinic at the Indian River County Fairgrounds and Cleveland Clinic Indian River continue to be the primary sources of vaccine locally.

As of Friday, about 7,000 people were still on the county’s waiting list to get a vaccine appointment. To get on the waitlist, go to

The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine that’s being used throughout Europe was supposed to present clinical trial data to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in late March or early April for emergency use authorization, but as of press time Monday, Germany, Italy, France, Spain, Norway, Denmark and Iceland had temporarily suspended the use of that vaccine due to concerns about blood clots. It’s unknown whether this will sidetrack approval in the U.S.