COVID-19 has hit the Big Bend hard. But now hope has arrived in the form of vaccines. Clinical trials have shown they are safe and highly effective. In Florida, state officials initially prioritized front-line health care workers, residents of long-term care facilities, and Florida residents age 65-plus. More recently, state officials have expanded the categories of eligible residents as more individuals get vaccinated and additional vaccine supplies become available.

Three ways to get the vaccine:

  1. Register through the State of Florida
  2. Get vaccinated through your primary care provider
  3. Get vaccinated through select stores or a community organization

1. Register through the State of Florida

The State of Florida offers a site to register to receive your vaccination against COVID-19. Previous registration links for Leon County or other Big Bend counties are no longer being used.

If you had already registered to receive your vaccination through previous sites, your registration is still active and you don’t need to re-register.

The Florida Department of Health in Leon County has answers to your questions about the vaccine.

2. Get vaccinated through your primary care provider

Primary care providers throughout the Big Bend area have received limited supplies of COVID-19 vaccines. Doctors are authorized to provide the vaccines to those eligible under guidelines issued by the Florida Department of Health. If you are eligible, call your doctor to set up an appointment to be vaccinated.

3. Get vaccinated through select stores or a community organization

Get vaccinated through one of many pharmacy chains or other businesses gearing up to provide vaccines under a new federal/state partnership.

  • Know Before You Go, Florida COVID-19 Vaccine eligibility and finder map.
  • COVID-19 Vaccination Clinics in Gadsden County. Pre-registration is required and open to persons with underlying conditions, law enforcement, firefighters, health care workers, and teachers. Call (850) 329-0685 to register for your vaccine today!
  • The single dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine is coming to Gadsden County! Floridians age 18+, those who have underlying health conditions or work in law enforcement, firefighters, health care, or schools can call (850) 329-0685 to register today!
  • The Pfizer vaccine is authorized for persons age 16 and up. All individuals under the age of 18 receiving the vaccine must be accompanied by a guardian and complete the COVID-19 vaccine screening and consent form. To download a copy of the form, click here
  • Florida State University is offering COVID-19 vaccinations to eligible individuals by appointment only at the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center Exhibition Hall. The vaccine will be distributed in accordance with guidelines provide by the Governor's Executive Order. Individuals who meet the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) definition of “extremely vulnerable” will be eligible to register for vaccination appointments through the University. Vaccines are also available to individuals who are age 18+, health care personnel, K-12 school employees, sworn law enforcement officers age 18+, and firefighters age 18+. Registration is open at:
  • Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare (TMH) is currently scheduling appointments for eligible individuals to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Individuals 18 and older can schedule an appointment online or by calling 850-431-3017 and leaving a message. Registration is open at: TMH.ORG/Vaccine.
  • Florida A&M University is operating a free, walk-up vaccination center from 9 am to 1 pm daily at the Al Lawson Center, 1800 Wahnish Way, Tallahassee, Fla.
  • Currently, Publix grocery stores in Florida are taking limited registrations to receive COVID-19 vaccinations. Available registration slots are available starting at 7 am on a rolling basis, but usually get filled quickly. Learn more.
  • Walmart and Sam’s Club are now taking reservations for COVID-19 vaccinations.
  • Walgreens and CVS are also providing vaccines, in accordance with procedures for those stores.

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State officials set criteria within each state, working from guidelines issued by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (CDC Vaccine Recommendations).

In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis has set these criteria for vaccination eligibility, according to the Florida Department of Health website:

  • Persons age 60 or older
  • Persons under age 60 deemed “medically vulnerable” by a physician (form required; vaccines for this group may only be administered by a physician, advanced registered nurse practitioner or licensed pharmacist)
  • Health care workers with direct patient contact
  • Residents and staff of long-term care facilities
  • Persons under the age of 60 who are deemed to be extremely vulnerable by hospital providers
  • Sworn law-enforcement officers age 50 and older
  • Firefighters age 50 and older
  • K-12 school employees age 50 and older

Other groups expected to be eligible next for vaccinations include front-line essential workers such as police, firefighters, corrections officers, U.S. Postal Service workers, and others; and other essential workers, such as workers in transportation and logistics, communications, energy, public safety, and public health.
(CDC Vaccine Recommendations).

All vaccines approved for use in the United States have been shown in clinical trials to be effective and safe to receive.

None of the vaccines use the live virus that causes COVID-19. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines use a different technology that teaches your body’s natural defenses how to protect against COVID-19. Learn more about how this process works: CDC - Understanding How COVID-19 Vaccines Work

Any medication, including vaccinations, can have side effects. Side effects from COVID-19 vaccines are generally mild, such as a low-grade fever, a sore arm where the shot was administered, chills, tiredness, or mild flu-like symptoms. More serious side effects are rare.

To ensure that we have accurate, up-to-date information about side effects, the CDC has enhanced its systems that gather information about side effects from doctors, hospitals, long-term care facilities, and health insurers. The federal government also has launched a phone app called V-Safe, which collects information directly from people who have been vaccinated.

According to the National Medical Association, a 125-year-old organization of more than 30,000 Black physicians nationwide, clinical trial data shows that the vaccine is effective and safe across all ethnic groups. The NMA’s COVID-19 Task Force on Vaccines and Therapeutics, chaired by NMA President Dr. Leon McDougle, found that 10% of those enrolled in clinical trials for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were Black. The effectiveness and safety of the vaccine was consistent across all races, ethnicities, genders, and ages of participants in those clinical trials, the task force found.

The League of Latin American Citizens, the nation’s largest and oldest Hispanic organization, has launched a nationwide initiative to urge people of Hispanic or Latinx backgrounds to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as they are eligible.

According to the COVID Racial Tracker website, created by The Atlantic magazine, Black people have died from COVID-19 at about 1.5 times the rate of white people. Hispanic/Latinx people have died at about 1.3 times the rate of whites.

Data on clinical trials shows that all vaccines approved in the U.S. today offer strong protection against getting the virus and even stronger protection against developing serious symptoms of COVID-19.

By getting vaccinated, you can help protect not only yourself, but others in your family who may be especially vulnerable to the virus.

According to the CDC, it’s still important to get vaccinated even if you have recovered from a COVID-19 infection. However, if you were treated for COVID-19 symptoms with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma, you should wait 90 days before getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Talk to your doctor if you aren’t sure what treatments you received, or if you have more questions about getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

Yes. In Tallahassee, the StarMetro city bus system is providing free rides to vaccination appointments. Show proof of your vaccination appointment to the bus driver and you will receive documentation from the driver so you can ride free on the return trip. Eligible Dial-a-Ride paratransit riders also can ride fare-free to a vaccination appointment. Call (850) 891-5199 or schedule a ride online. Also, Volunteer Leon is matching volunteer drivers with people needing a ride to a vaccination site. To volunteer to help with driving or in other functions with COVID-19, call Volunteer Leon Volunteer Services Manager Royle King at (850) 606-1970. In Gadsden County, see the following information to get help with transportation to a vaccine site:

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