Buchholz High School student receiving a COVID-19 vaccine shot

A Buchholz High School student receives a COVID-19 vaccine shot last week. Health department officials say the increasingly widespread availability of a vaccine has made appointments no longer necessary. 

For months local residents have battled busy signals, missed call-backs and competing registration systems while trying to book an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccine. 

Now, for residents of Alachua County, those issues are a thing of the past.

On Tuesday a county spokesperson told the Alachua Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) that all COVID-19 vaccine clinics are accessible without an appointment.

"They are here, they are available for you, we hope citizens will take advantage of that," said Mark Sexton, Alachua County's communications and legislative affairs director, who made the announcement on behalf of health department administrator Paul Myers.

Sexton noted the wide range of vaccine availability, including county health department events, UF Health and retail locations such as CVS.

Mark Sexton

Mark Sexton

When the COVID-19 vaccines arrived in Alachua County in December, they were limited to healthcare and emergency workers, those over 65 years old and those with underlying health conditions.

Those wanting to get the vaccine were required to sign up. Sexton said all of the names on those lists have been served and there is no further need for lists now that the supply of the vaccine is surpassing the demand.

On April 5, all Florida residents became eligible to receive any COVID-19 vaccine as prescribed by the Food and Drug Administration. Starting last week, vaccine clinics were rolled out to Alachua County high school students 16 and older. 

According to the Alachua County COVID-19 recovery dashboard, 108,785 vaccinations have been administered as of April 27. Of those, 77,868 residents have received both doses. As of April 27, the total COVID-19 positivity rate for Alachua County is at 4.62 percent.

As of April 26, 13.8 million doses of vaccine have been administered in Florida. Those doses have resulted in 5.7 million fully vaccinated residents who have received both in a series or one shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

The Florida COVID-19 vaccine summary report released on April 26 shows a steady decline in the number of vaccines being administered. On April 13, there were 222,781 doses administered, compared to the 30,561 doses administered statewide on April 25.

Anyone with questions about the vaccine will have an opportunity to have them answered during a COVID-19 vaccine town hall later this week. UF Health and the Florida Department of Health in Alachua County are joining forces for the virtual event, which begins 6 p.m. Thursday.

Mainstreet Daily News Reporter

Suzette Cook is a Mainstreet Daily News reporter who has been a community journalist for more than 30 years.

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