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The Villages

Sumter Health Department chief tries to ease fears about second COVID-19 doses

Dr. Sanford Zelnick

The director of the Health Department in Sumter County is attempting to alleviate fear among residents who are worried about getting their second COVID-19 vaccination – concerns most likely driven by Gov. Ron DeSantis during a Tuesday visit to The Villages.

Dr. Sanford D. Zelnick released a memo Thursday regarding area residents who were vaccinated in recent days at the Wildwood Community Center. He said that he’s aware of concerns about the availability of a second dose and the “resolution of this issue depends to a large extent on how the national supply system reconciles the challenges in the vaccine supply distribution system.”

Zelnick’s memo follows a press conference on Tuesday at a makeshift drive-through vaccination clinic in The Villages that caused mass confusion among residents because they were asked for their Social Security numbers and pertinent insurance information when signing up for the inoculations. During that visit, DeSantis suggested at one point that it might be a better plan to use all of the doses Florida has been given on initial COVID-19 vaccinations instead of holding some back for the second shots. Instead, he suggested, later doses that arrive in Florida could be used for those needed booster shots.

Gov. Ron DeSantis spoke at a makeshift drive-through COVID-19 vaccination clinic in The Villages on Tuesday and likely created fear among area residents when he suggested that it might be a better plan to use all of the doses Florida has been given on initial vaccinations instead of holding some back for the second shots. He suggested later doses that arrive in Florida could be used for those needed booster shots.

Zelnick’s memo assured those residents who were vaccinated at the Wildwood Community Center on Jan. 5 and Jan. 7 that they would receive a phone call from a health department staff member to set up their second doses on Feb. 1 and Feb. 3.

Zelnick also pointed out that residents vaccinated at the Wildwood facility after Jan. 7 were given appointment cards advising them when their second dose would be available. He said those residents don’t need to worry about taking any further steps regarding their second dose.

In the memo, Zelnick said a staff member from his office would contact those waiting for a second dose shortly before Feb. 1. He said if the health department receives the vaccines up to the day before someone’s scheduled appointment, he or she would be vaccinated at the Wildwood Community Center. If the health department doesn’t receive the vaccine by then, he added, residents will be contacted and an appointment will be scheduled for that second dose.

Dr. Sanford D. Zelnick is assuring area residents who received their initial COVID-19 vaccines at the Wildwood Community Center that they shouldn’t worry about receiving their second doses in the coming weeks.

“Throughout this unfortunate pandemic, I ask all of you to please be patient and calm,” he said. “The health department has the capacity to re-vaccinate everyone we provided a primary dose to. If I have the doses in my possession at the health department, I view it as my direct responsibility to provide this to you as soon as possible.”

In the meantime, Zelnick added, residents should continue to wear masks, “if there is any question of close personal interactions with others,” wash their hands frequently, avoid large crowds and postpone unnecessary travel.

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