Following Monday’s frustrating COVID-19 vaccine rollout where all 2,000 appointments filled up two minutes after they were posted online, Indian River County commissioners Tuesday directed County Administrator Jason Brown to devise a wait list system for getting some 50,000 residents 65 and older vaccinated.
“The current system is not working,” said commissioner Susan Adams. “Let’s move forward with some type of waitlist. We need a process that doesn’t pit neighbor against neighbor and turns it into a free-for-all. If we have a list and people know they are on it, it will take a lot of that angst away.”
Replied Brown: “We’ll work to come up with the least bad option– one that causes as little pain and anxiety as possible.”
The problem, according to Brown and Indian River County Health Department administrator Miranda Hawker, is that state officials only know how many of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines they will receive for the next seven days.
“At the rate we’re currently getting them, it would only result in vaccines for one-half of our 65 and over population in the next three and a half months,” Brown said.
“Everybody needs to have realistic expectations. We’re trying to make sure everyone understands this is a marathon — not a sprint.”
Brown suggested either a ‘first-in/first-out’ or lottery system, and commissioners seemed to endorse a lottery where residents would register for appointments that would be generated randomly online. Commissioner Peter O’Bryan was concerned about ensuring that residents who have had the first shot would be able to get a timely booster.
Responded Brown: “There will be outreach to people to get their second dose.” And Hawker said she had received assurances from the federal government that there would be sufficient second doses for those already vaccinated.
Hawker reminded residents to maintain COVID-19 protocols such as wearing masks, keeping social distancing, and washing their hands even as vaccines are being administered.
“There’s a 14.5 percent positivity rate in our county,” Hawker said.