The race to vaccinate has health care professionals on the move

Published: Aug. 6, 2021 at 5:17 PM EDT
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DUNNELLON, Fla. (WCJB) - Health care professionals in north central Florida are meeting people where they are so they can be protected against COVID-19.

Officials in Marion County say that they’ve seen interest in the COVID vaccine fluctuate but that’s not stopping them from making sure that the vaccine is available when people do decide that they want the shot.

Pharmacist Tapan Vora has been fighting since the start to make the COVID vaccine available to the citizens of Dunnellon.

“We were not getting vaccine, to be frank with you, as an independent pharmacy it was tough for us to get the vaccine from the state and from the federal government,” Vora said.

So he called on the Marion County Department of Health for help, and in March got the precious doses.

He said in the beginning, he would get walk-ins for the vaccine every 10 to 15 minutes.

He even made house calls.

“I have done for some of my customers who are homebound, I have gone to their houses and given them he vaccine too,” Vora added.

Vora said interest for the vaccine has slowed, but continues to have a supply for those who do decide to make an appointment.

And the Heart of Florida Health Center is trying to take the vaccine to farthest corners of Marion County.

“In our American Rescue Funds plan, two mobile units, one that’s a pop-up clinic that we can drive somewhere and be able to pop-up anywhere on the spot and actually start a clinic there along with vaccinations. The other larger unit with be to provide primary care,” Heart of Florida Health Center CEO, Jamie Ulmer said.

More than 100 people are still dying every week due COVID-19 according to the state Department of Health.

“We’ve not ever seen the numbers in Marion County that we’ve seen at the current moment,” Ulmer said.

That’s why these health care professionals said they will do whatever they can to stop the spread.

“It’s excruciating on the hospital system. There are loved ones, family members, friends that are passing away and it’s very unfortunate, and so anything that we can do to test, to vaccinate, to lower those percentages of positive numbers that we’re seeing, we’re going to do that,” he added.

And with each shot, we might just be able to save that loved one, family member and friend.

The Marion County Department of Health is also taking its mobile vaccine bus to different parts of the county to administer free vaccines.

The Department of Health in Marion County has held vaccine outreach events at the following locations. The Mobile Health Unit has been used in some of the events, while other events have used smaller vehicles to transport personnel, supplies and equipment when it was not practical to use the larger mobile unit:

* Rainbow Lakes Estates Oberman building

* Marion Oaks Community Center

* McIntosh Civic Center

* Hog Valley Civic Center

* First Baptist Church of Ft. McCoy

* Silver Springs Shores Presbyterian Church

* Starting Point Church, Summerfield

* Misíon Católica La Guadalupana, Ocala

* Shiloh Church, Ocala

* Saving Mercy, Ocala

* First United Methodist Church, Ocala

* Salvation Army, Ocala

* St. Theresa Church, Belleview

The Marion-DOH has also provided walk-in COVID-19 vaccinations Mondays through Wednesdays from 8–11 a.m. and 1–3 p.m. at its main office.

No appointments are needed for our mobile vaccine outreach events.

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