ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – Cars began lining up at 5:30 a.m. Friday, hoping to get shot before the office closed on New Year’s Day. The St. Johns County Health Department was supposed to remain open until 3 p.m. but deputies began turning people away about 11:30 a.m. — the day’s allocation of 330 shots was gone in 2½ hours.
The health department announced that its office — on San Sebastian View, off U.S. 1 about 1 mile north of State Road 16 — will be open to distribute vaccines from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
After a day of confusion over COVID-19 vaccines that prompted long lines at the office, Jake Quigley, the business manager for the county health department, told News4Jax there is no need for an appointment to receive the vaccine.
According to Quigley, the phone system to schedule appointments crashed and there’s currently no way to reserve a spot. The department’s website said all appointments for this week were taken, but some of the 280 vaccines given Thursday were to people who didn’t have appointments. Quigley acknowledged there is confusion and frustration surrounding the department’s distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine.
There’s a massive demand outweighing the supply of vaccines. Quigley said more than 55,000 people were vying for one of only 3,000 vaccines currently available in the county.
The line in St. John’s County is growing to try to get the first 3,000 of the county’s vaccines. We have learned you do NOT need an appointment. This after the phone lines crashed. Officials say they have the #Vaccine sitting in freezer their goal is to get shots in arms. @wjxt4 pic.twitter.com/kspLhKX0UC
— Brittany Muller (@BrittMullerNews) January 1, 2021
More than 32 cars were in line outside the St. Johns County Health Department by 6:15 a.m., backing up onto U.S. 1.
The department did not indicate people who were able to make appointments would be given preferential treatment or treated first. Officials are urging patience.
To receive timely updates regarding the Department of Health in St. Johns County’s COVID-19 vaccination program, text SJCVACCINE to 888777. For more information, visit www.sjcfl.us/coronavirusvaccinations.
In Duval, Clay and Putnam counties the health departments have made it clear people who show up without appointments will not receive a vaccination shot. Duval and Clay are beginning vaccinations to health care workers and people 65 and above on Monday — but by appointment only.
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