County Commission backs off on COVID vaccine wait list; awaiting new state Share Care program

Despite all 975 COVID-19 vaccination appointments at the Indian River County Fairgrounds this week being claimed in seemingly nanoseconds Tuesday online and on the phone, frustrated Indian River County commissioners voted 3-2 NOT to proceed with a county-run vaccine wait list program.  Instead, the majority of commissioners opted to await the rollout of the Florida Division of Emergency Management’s Share Care program of vaccinations expected here within the next three weeks.

Commissioners Joseph Flescher and Joe Earman tried unsuccessfully to convince their colleagues to authorize County Administrator Jason Brown to spend up to $200,000 in federal CARES Act funds to contract with a software company to develop a vaccine wait list program.  But Brown warned there could be pushback from the state if the county decides to go it alone.

“The state wants us to utilize this [Share Care] system, or we would not receive support for whatever we roll out,” Brown told commissioners.

Brown said he doesn’t know exactly how the Share Care program would work, but it is supposed to be implemented in different counties at different times and does not include a wait list feature.

So far, health officials say, only 5,848 of Indian River County’s estimated 50,000 permanent and part-time residents aged 65 and older have received doses of the COVID vaccine. Brown says at the current vaccination rate, it would take about six months for that population to receive shots. He said the county doesn’t know how many doses it will receive from the state until a week before the vaccines arrive.

Commissioners Susan Adams, Peter O’Bryant and Laura Moss voted down a county-run wait list for fear of running afoul of the state program.

“I don’t want to get into a situation where we are butting heads with the state,” O’Bryant said.  If they start cutting our vaccines, that is a huge concern.  I don’t want to be on the wrong side of the state on this.”

Added Adams:  “I’d be willing to give the state two more weeks  to implement the Share Care system.  I don’t want to keep perpetuating the angst among the public and ourselves. I’d be very happy to revisit this motion in two weeks.”

Commissioners are asking state legislators to help procure more vaccines for Indian River County.

In other action, commissioners voted 4-to-1 to extend the county’s mask wearing ordinance for six months, expiring on July 13.

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