For the News-Leader
The Nassau County Emergency Management director defended his department’s work in organizing the distribution of the much-anticipated COVID-19 vaccine.
During a special meeting Thursday of the Nassau County Board of County Commissioners, Emergency Management Director Greg Foster explained the process involved in the vaccine distribution and said his department has faced some difficulty due to the number of people who are attempting to obtain vaccines and the limited number of vaccines that are available.
Foster told commissioners the Eventbrite website – residents must visit OneNassau.com to reach it when it’s live – launched for online registration has worked well so far. Foster said the county has call takers at the Joint Information Center who can register people who do not have the knowledge or means to use a computer to make an appointment.
Foster said he understood the frustration of people who are attempting to make appointments. He said at 8:15 a.m. Monday, Jan. 4, Emergency Management opened 100 appointments, and in three minutes, they were all filled. The next day, Emergency Management opened up 400 appointments, which were filled in 60 seconds. On Wednesday, Jan. 6, 350 appointments were opened and within minutes those were claimed.
The COVID-19 vaccine is only available to front-line health care workers with direct contact to patients and residents 65 and older.
Foster said one of the problems facing the system is that people can register in any county and receive their vaccination in that county. Florida Department of Health – Nassau Director Dr. Eugenia Ngo-Seidel said the number of non-Nassau County residents who have registered for vaccination can’t be determined until a person comes in for the vaccination.
Commissioner Aaron Bell suggested the county create a list of all those needing vaccinations and alert those people when they can be vaccinated. Commissioner John Martin suggesting adding personnel to the call center.
Seidel said the local health department does not know how many vaccine doses will be available in the future.
“The state makes those allocation decisions in the latter part of the week, and so we typically here at the health department hear either Friday or over the weekend, and then we expect shipment early in the week,” she said. Seidel said as of Thursday morning, 1,202 doses of the vaccine had been administered by the health department.