By the end of this week, Sumter County will have vaccinated nearly 1,000 residents who were left in limbo when Global Medical Response vanished from its makeshift COVID-19 vaccination clinic in The Villages.
Vaccination efforts in Sumter County this week have been focused on the people who had been hopeful when they registered online for the coveted COVID-19 vaccine through Global Medical Response. Early registrants who were desperate for the vaccine surrendered their Social Security numbers and medical insurance information despite previous warnings from consumer protection agencies that such information would not need to be collected in lieu of vaccines. Gov. Ron DeSantis visited The Villages and blessed the Global Medical Response tent city clinic in a field behind Red Lobster at Buffalo Ridge Plaza. Days later, the tents were gone.
The Sumter County Health Department has been trying to pick up the pieces, rescheduling appointments and administering the first round of doses in a drive-up clinic at the Wildwood Community Center.
Next week, the health department will begin administering second doses for the people who originally received first doses earlier this month from the health department. The second doses will be given by appointment Monday, Wednesday and Friday at the Wildwood Community Center.
“Some additional primary doses from the Global Medical Response appointment list may be provided however, my first obligation is to provide those important second doses to people who are due for them, so we can begin to establish immunity from a community perspective,” said Dr. Sanford Zelnick, director of the Sumter County Health Department.
Additionally, Department of Health vaccination teams will be accessed from the DOH central office in Tallahassee to provide first dose vaccinations on Tuesday, Feb. 2 and Thursday, Feb. 4, at the Wildwood Community Center using the GMR appointment list.
“We estimate that we will service approximately 2,500 individuals next week for primary vaccination through these DOH activities,” Zelnick said.
He acknowledged that he knows many first-dosers from Global Medical Response are worried about obtaining the second dose of the vaccine.
“Discussions are under way concerning this and the central office of The Florida Department of Health is heavily involved,” Zelnick said.
He added that those doses are due for arrival on Feb. 5.