Publix set to begin coronavirus vaccinations in Florida

Publix Super Markets is collaborating with the Florida Department of Health and Florida Division of Emergency Management to administer about 15,000 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.

 

Lakeland, Fla.-based Publix, which announced the distribution in a press event yesterday with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (click to see video), said the coronavirus vaccination will be available initially to customers ages 65 and older at 22 pharmacy stores in Citrus, Hernando and Marion counties.

“It’s our privilege to work with Gov. DeSantis as a distributor of this important vaccine. We’re grateful to play a role in helping to protect the health and well-being of people at risk of serious complications from the coronavirus,” Dain Rusk, vice president of pharmacy at Publix, said in a statement.

The COVID-19 immunizations will be offered by appointment while supplies last, and Publix customers will be able to schedule a vaccination via the retailer’s online reservation system at publix.com/covidvaccine starting tomorrow, Jan. 7. Publix is slated to begin administering the shots on Jan. 8.

Each store can schedule about 120 vaccinations daily, according to Publix. The vaccines are being provided at no cost, but the retailer said customers will need to bring their insurance card and those without insurance must provide their driver’s license or Social Security number.

“We look forward to a time when everyone who wants a vaccination is able to receive one,” added Rusk, who participated in the press conference with DeSantis at the first Publix vaccination site in Ocala.

The Publix COVID vaccine locations include three pharmacies in Citrus County (one each in Crystal River, Homosassa and Inverness), eight in Hernando County (five in Spring Hill and one apiece in Brooksville, Hernando and Weeki Wachee) and 11 in Marion County (nine in Ocala and one each in Belleview and Dunnellon).

“As part of our ongoing efforts to increase vaccinations and put Florida’s seniors first, I’m pleased to announce this innovative partnership with Publix,” DeSantis stated. “At the end of the day, we are all in this together, and the state of Florida thanks Publix for their willingness to step up and lend their infrastructure to this critical cause.”

DeSantis noted that the effort is a pilot program by Publix and Florida. The state is one of the hardest-hit during the pandemic, with nearly 1.4 million COVID-19 cases, more than 22,000 deaths from the virus and a current test-positivity rate of 8.45%, according to Johns Hopkins University’s Coronavirus Resource Center.

“Our goal is we want to do this pilot project, and we selected these three counties and these 22 pharmacies. But I’ve made clear to Publix that if we’re able to do this — if it’s efficient and people have a good response to it — my goal would be to work with them in all of their pharmacies,” DeSantis said at the press event inside the Publix pharmacy in Ocala.

Rusk told the governor that Publix operates 756 pharmacies in Florida. “Publix has said they could potentially do between 100 and 125 shots [per day] at each one of those facilities,” said DeSantis. “If you multiply that statewide, that’s an incredible force multiplier for our state vaccination efforts. It’ll be done in a way that’s convenient for our senior citizens, and I think will make a big, big difference.”

Publix said it’s also in communication with the other six states in its market area to provide COVID-19 vaccinations as part of their distribution efforts. Overall, the food and drug retailer operates 1,264 stores, including more than 1,000 pharmacies, in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia.

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