Lee Health President & CEO Dr. Larry Antonucci updated the community on the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine Monday. He detailed how much vaccine Lee County is receiving and who it’s being distributed to. Here’s what he had to say…
Antonucci started off his remarks by saying it will take some time to get everyone vaccinated. Lee Health is collaborating with Lee County government and the Department of Health to administer the vaccine through multiple access points.
He detailed how much of the vaccine is being delivered to the county. “In each of the last two weeks, we have received an additional 1,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine to support our journey toward immunity. Of the 1,000 doses we received last week, 100 were for second doses and the remaining 900 were earmarked for vulnerable members of our community under the age of 65. I am happy to report that we got all 900 of those shots into arms last week.”
He added that the Lee Health Board of Directors sent a letter to several state leaders last week requesting assistance in vaccinating frontline health care workers. “Some saw this as a critique of the efforts of state leaders, but that was not the intention at all. It was simply a request to get additional doses of the vaccine for frontline nurses and doctors, not only those employed at Lee Health, but also those employed by community physician and dentist offices. Understandably, the state has a need to get the vaccine to those under the age of 65 who are medically vulnerable and they are counting on hospitals to help with this effort. Lee Health is happy to provide this help. We are in a unique position to know exactly who these medically vulnerable individuals are because of electronic health records. Additionally, our hospitals are a safe place to administer the vaccine to people whose health is at risk.”
Another 1,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine arrived this week and the focus of this week’s shipment is still on vulnerable patients between the ages of 18 to 65. Antonucci said he’s been informed Lee Health may also use some of this latest batch to protect frontline staff most at risk to exposure to COVID-19.
And, finally as the inventory of the vaccine increases, Antonucci says electronic health records will be used to prioritize who gets vaccinated first. “This is based on the patient’s medical history. Those who have the most co-morbidities are being vaccinated first. We are directly contacting eligible patients to schedule vaccination appointments. We kindly ask that people not call to check on their eligibility as the volume of calls overwhelms our phone system and prevents others from reaching us for their care.”
Antonucci said the vaccine is in high demand and he asked the community to be patient. “We are getting closer to herd immunity every day, but we are still likely months away from having the supply of vaccines to fully get there. Leaders around our state and county are working tirelessly to get shots in arms but until we reach herd immunity, wearing a mask, washing our hands and practicing physical distancing remain as important as ever to keep our friends, families and neighbors safe.”