Younger than 65 and high-risk? Hospitals to receive more vaccines for ‘extremely vulnerable’

Hospitals in Collier and Lee are getting more vaccines for people 65 and younger…

Younger than 65 and high-risk? Hospitals to receive more vaccines for 'extremely vulnerable' 1

Liz Freeman
 
| Naples Daily News

Younger than 65 and high-risk? Hospitals to receive more vaccines for 'extremely vulnerable' 2

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Collier residents ready to get COVID-19 vaccine

Collier residents ready to get COVID-19 vaccine

Andrea Melendez, Naples Daily News

Southwest Florida hospitals are getting more vaccines for people 65 and younger who are considered extremely vulnerable to COVID-19.

The NCH Healthcare System in Collier County is scheduled this week to receive 670 doses of the Moderna vaccine.

NCH is working with the state Department of Health to identify individuals 65 and younger who are high risk and qualify.

In case you missed it: Winter storms have delayed 200,000 vaccines from getting to Florida

More: Collier, Lee counties see fewest COVID-related hospitalizations in months

Because of extreme winter weather around the U.S. that has caused delays in overall vaccine delivery statewide, the doses of the Moderna vaccine may arrive Thursday, NCH spokesman Shawn McConnell said.

The Lee Health System in Lee County has received 1,000 doses weekly for the past two weeks for individuals under 65 who are highly vulnerable to the virus, spokesman Jonathon Little said.

But Little said Lee Health has yet to receive this week’s allotment of 1,000 doses for this target group due to weather conditions.

State public health officials in recent weeks have earmarked more vaccines to hospitals to immunize individuals 65 and younger with underlying medical conditions that make them high risk of serious illness or death from the virus.

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Previously: NCH Healthcare receives limited supply of COVID-19 vaccine for under 65, vulnerable

Gov. Ron DeSantis’ executive order for the state’s vaccination campaign in late December prioritizes people 65 and older, nursing home residents and healthcare workers but it gives hospitals discretion to vaccinate anyone who is extremely vulnerable.

Lee Health, the publicly-operated system in Lee and one of the county’s largest employers, has received around 21,000 doses and 3,000 doses, or 14%, have been set aside for the 65 and younger who are highly vulnerable to the virus. Lee Health also has been vaccinating its workforce of 13,500 employees.

“We are using our electronic medical records to identify patients who qualify and then are reaching out to them directly to schedule appointments,” Little said.

Lee Health reminds the public not to call the hospital switchboard to ask about qualifying, which jams the switchboard and can delay urgent calls getting answered.

NCH has received 10,570 doses of the Moderna vaccine and 770 doses, or 7%, have been designated for the under-65 risk group. Most of those are the 670 doses set for delivery this week.

NCH began working with the state earlier this month to start vaccinating people 65 and younger.

More: Collier health department: Bad weather delays COVID-19 vaccine delivery, appointments

More: Southwest Florida hospitals earn distinction among top 250 hospitals nationwide

The health department supplied NCH with 100 doses the first week of February along with a list of individuals it had determined in this group to be high risk.

“Our team reached out to those on the DOH’s list to offer the vaccine, but not all accepted an appointment for it at NCH,” the hospital said Wednesday. “Our team filled the gaps with several of our own patients that we determined fit this extremely vulnerable group.”

This week, the Collier health department is setting aside another 170 doses and a list of individuals to continue vaccinating people 65 and younger with serious risk factors, NCH said.

The state also told NCH it will receive 500 more doses this week for the same target population. The hospital will work with the health department to identify people who qualify.

“Patients should not call their doctors to inquire about being added to the list because this slows the process of reaching out to those who have been identified,” NCH said.

State data shows more than 2.4 million people have been vaccinated in Florida, with nearly 1.3 million having received one dose and more than 1.1 million completing the two-shot series.

In Collier, 46,000 people have gotten a first dose while 18,400 have completed their vaccination. In Lee, 61,000 people have gotten a first dose and 36,300 have received both doses.

Younger than 65 and high-risk? Hospitals to receive more vaccines for 'extremely vulnerable' 3

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