FSU extends vaccination hours, county ramps up staffing

Posted at 6:38 PM, Feb 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-17 18:38:39-05

LEON COUNTY, Fla. (WTXL) — Florida State University extended its hours for COVID-19 vaccinations Wednesday.

FSU's vaccination clinic is now open in the morning and afternoon Monday through Friday.

Dr. James Zedaker is the Director of COVID-19 Testing and Vaccinations for FSU and said the site can do about 800 vaccinations per day.

"The idea is to get shots in arms right now and get as many covered," said Dr. Zedaker.

Dr. Zedaker said the university can handle more vaccinations per day, but the issue is the supply of vaccines available. One plus for FSU is the ability to carry both the Moderna and Pfizer brands.

"Here at FSU right now, we're giving both the Moderna and the Pfizer vaccine. Probably more of the Pfizer because of our ability to store them here on campus," he said.

By the end of Wednesday, the university will have vaccinated roughly 4,600 seniors and health care workers. Right now, the clinic is only open to health care workers and people over the age of 65, but it could open to more groups soon.

"We're going to start to move into the vulnerable populations but I don't believe we'll have a clinic for that until next week and that'll be on a very limited basis," said Dr. Zedaker.

As FSU ramps up its vaccinations, so does the focus on getting it into African-American communities.

Leon County has vaccinated 64 percent of its senior population, but only a third of them have been African-Americans.

A Statewide Coronavirus Vaccination Taskforce is now working on educating and providing African-Americans with the opportunity to get the shot. Linda Fortenberry is a member of that task force.

"There is documented data to show the disparities in communities of color in terms of getting the vaccination; although there is a disproportionate number of people of color succumbing to COVID-19," said Fortenberry.

Bethel Family Life Center will open its doors on Feb. 20 to give the vaccine.

"It's really exciting that we have a location here in Frenchtown that people know. We're a trusted voice and we're looking for our community to come out Saturday," she said.

The task force has spent the last month and a half encouraging minority communities across the state to take the vaccine. The group says the issue is split between mistrust in the vaccine and a lack of resources to get the vaccine.

"We don't have any quantitative data right now but actually in terms of the responses and the reactions of people, we do see a slow movement toward getting the vaccine. Some people who were not so sure are calling up now," said Fortenberry.

That's not the only focus for vaccine priority. Leon County Superintendent Rocky Hanna is calling on Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to add teachers, bus drivers, and food service workers to the next list of people eligible to roll up their sleeves for the shot.

"We've been open since Aug. 31 and every day our teachers are facing hundreds of children that come with germs from all over the place," said Hanna. "Heaven forbid some of those germs are COVID germs, so please Governor DeSantis, move our teachers, bus drivers, and food service workers up on that list."

Florida has not released a schedule for when or who specifically is included in the next vaccination phase. However, when that happens, the Department of Health is already looking at providing extra staffing.

Leon County Emergency Medical Services Chad Abrams said an emergency order will allow EMTs to give the vaccine.

"We currently have paramedics doing that role. This will allow for future planning to put EMTs in roles we couldn't prior," said Chief Abrams.

Abrams said this is especially important in Florida's more rural communities that don't have as many healthcare workers or paramedics to administer the vaccine.

If you're interested in getting a vaccine, you can register on FSU's website by clicking here.

If you're looking to go to Bethel Family Life, vaccinations will run from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m., and to schedule an appointment, call (850) 222-8440.