Some Tampa Bay Publix stores to administer coronavirus vaccine

Gov. DeSantis said that he hopes all Publix locations in Florida will eventually be able to administer vaccinations.
Some Publix stores in Marion, Citrus and Hernando counties will begin administering a vaccine for the coronavrius.
Some Publix stores in Marion, Citrus and Hernando counties will begin administering a vaccine for the coronavrius. [ CHRIS URSO | Times ]
Published Jan. 5, 2021|Updated Jan. 5, 2021

Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Tuesday that 22 Publix stores in Marion, Citrus and Hernando counties will administer coronavirus vaccines starting later this week.

The Publix stores will be used as part of a pilot program, DeSantis said, which will be expanded throughout the state if successful. The program will provide the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine solely to people who are 65 and older.

Related: Have coronavirus vaccines questions? We've got answers

“Vaccines are not new to Publix,” DeSantis said from a Publix in Ocala during a press conference. “They provide millions of vaccine doses each year. They know what they need to do and they’re able to get it done.”

The governor said the program will begin with 15,000 doses of the vaccine.

Those who wish to be vaccinated must make an appointment on the Publix website, DeSantis said. The sign-up site, which will not be live until Thursday, can be found here.

“They want to avoid having a crush of people just show up and be waiting in line all day,” DeSantis said. “Please make your appointment online.”

He added that he hopes to eventually offer vaccinations at all 756 Publix stores in Florida. State officials anticipate that Publix pharmacies will be able to administer roughly 100-125 vaccination shots per day.

Publix spokeswoman Maria Brous said the three counties selected for the pilot program were chosen by the state.

The vaccinations will be administered for free, Brous said. Those who have insurance will be asked to bring their insurance card, while those without it will be required to provide a driver’s license or social security number.

Related: Vaccine ‘train wreck’ leaves Tampa Bay seniors scrambling for shots

“This is something that’s going to be good for these three counties initially,” DeSantis said. “And I think this is going to be something that we’re going to be able to replicate throughout the state of Florida.”

There had been 289,773 people in Florida who had received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine as of Tuesday. In Tampa Bay, however, the overwhelming demand for vaccines to start this week clogged up phone lines and website servers for hours, leaving seniors without answers or any information on what to do next.

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