While Alachua County has said it will not switch to the new Florida Department of Health (FDOH) COVID-19 vaccine registration system, other area counties will start using the system in the next few weeks.
In Levy, Dixie and Gilchrist counties, the health departments are still registering eligible people for their first doses via telephone registration, said Wesley Asbell, the public information officer for the health department in the three counties.
“For now—this week and possibly a little longer—we will still be using the [current telephone] appointment system,” Asbell said in an email interview with Mainstreet Daily News. But he said the counties were working on implementation of the state-based myvaccine.fl.gov registration system.
In Bradford and Union counties, the health departments plan to switch over to the state system within the next two weeks, said operations manager Dan Mann.
“Right now we’re working through this week on vaccine clinics we had prearranged,” Mann said in a phone interview. He said the two counties will make the switch “at worst” by the third week of February.
Mann said vaccine demand has been strong in Bradford and Union counties and FDOH has not had trouble administering the vaccines they have received. The problem, he said, is the number of incoming phone calls in recent weeks.
“Right now the issue we have is with people calling and making reservations, and the call volume has basically shut down our phone system,” he said. “Hopefully the new [state] system will eliminate a lot of that.”
Even though the statewide system is not yet fully functional, qualified area residents in the five counties can begin pre-registering on the state site. Currently in Florida, full- and part-time residents 65 and older, health care workers with direct patient contact, and residents and staff at long-term care facilities are eligible for the first dose.
For people who do not want to use an online form or are having trouble pre-registering, they can pre-register over the phone. The state vaccine registration website provides phone numbers for each county, which are different from the county health department phone numbers.
People who don’t currently meet the vaccination requirements can sign up on myvaccine.fl.gov to receive updates and will be emailed when they are eligible to register to receive their doses.
The FDOH in Alachua County opened its own website and phone registration system on Dec. 27 and said last week it will stick with its system for now.
Alachua is not the only Florida county opting out of the state system. The Orlando Sentinel reported that Orange (Orlando), Seminole (Sanford) and Volusia (Daytona Beach) counties have also elected not to participate.
Suwannee and Columbia counties have not yet announced whether they will opt into the new state system. Mainstreet Daily News has reached out to the health departments in both counties and will update this story when more information is available.
For now, people who want to get their first doses will still call their county’s branch of the FDOH to schedule appointments.
In Bradford: 904-904-7732
In Dixie: 352-498-1360
In Gilchrist: 352-463-3120
In Levy: 352-486-5300
In Union: 386-496-3211
In Dixie, Gilchrist and Levy counties, the health departments are calling to schedule people who are eligible for their second doses. Second dose recipients do not need to contact the health departments to schedule their next shot.
J.C. Derrick contributed to this story.