SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. – Some health care workers not employed or affiliated by hospital systems have been told they can’t get the coronavirus vaccine.
According to Ann Scott, an at-home health care nurse who works for a private company headquartered in Alabama but treats patients in Central Florida, she was told by both the state and the Orange County health department that she was not eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine, though Gov. Ron DeSantis’ executive order clearly names health care workers as a priority.
“They explained, ‘If you don’t work for a hospital system or if you aren’t a first responder or 65 plus, you can’t get the vaccine until Phase 1,’” Scott said. “It’s really frustrating, I’m kind of at a lost. It’s shocking to me people who are direct health care workers, working with one of the most vulnerable populations, that there’s not some kind of systems in place.”
As it’s set up right now, hospital systems are vaccinating their own employees and affiliates. On Wednesday, DeSantis said more than 367,000 vaccines have been received to vaccinate hospital staff across the state. However, there is confusion as to where and when those health care workers outside of the hospital systems can be vaccinated.
“There is still confusion, I think there is still confusion in Tallahassee,” Seminole County Emergency Director Alan Harris said.
Last week, the Seminole County Department of Health was given 8,100 vaccinations to administer to those 65 and older and non-hospital health care workers, but Harris said they got a call from the state to not incorporate health care workers. He then said the guidance changed two more times on Wednesday.
“We saw other counties post announcements they were going to do non-hospital health care workers and our understanding (was) we weren’t supposed to be doing that,” Harris said. “The direction we got this morning was yes you need to go ahead and do that - then a later conference call was contrary. It’s so confusing right now.”