Slowing demand for COVID-19 vaccines prompts closure of Lee County's mass vaccination site
The Florida Department of Health in Lee County is shuttering its mass COVID-19 vaccination site in the old Sears building at the Edison Mall at the end of the day Friday and will only provide the shots at department offices in east Fort Myers and North Fort Myers.
Administrators made the decision to close the site because of a continuing decline in demand, spokeswoman Tammy Soliz said.
"The mass vaccination site was necessary when demand was much higher and fewer people had been vaccinated," Soliz said in an email. "The demand is low enough now that we can normalize the COVID-19 vaccine and bring it back into our normal clinical operations at FDOH (Florida Department of Health) Lee."
Scheduled vaccinations will resume Monday at offices located at 3920 Michigan Ave. and 83 Pondella Road. To schedule an appointment, call 239-461-6100 (select option 4). If you are homebound, email firstname.lastname@example.org for accommodations.
The department had been providing about 4,000 doses of vaccine per week. That dropped to fewer than 400 doses per day earlier this month. It has since dwindled to fewer than 100 per day, according to the department.
While demand for vaccine has dropped nationally, the decline in Department of Health shots follows now widespread availability of the vaccine at retail outlets, doctors' offices and urgent care centers.
Soliz said the department offices are equipped to handle a combined 500 vaccinations per day, a figure that she says exceeds current demand in Lee County. The two-dose Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are available, as is the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
The department will offer the shots in perpetuity, as it does with vaccines for shingles, influenza and tetanus, Soliz added.
Those scheduling vaccinations should bring a valid Florida driver's license or other valid Florida identification card. Those receiving their second doses should bring their vaccination cards to the appointment.
Additional information can be found on the FDOH LEE vaccine information website. People can monitor Florida DOH’s Twitter @flhealthlee or visit the Department's COVID-19 website.
Frank Gluck is a watchdog reporter with The News-Press and the Naples Daily News. Connect with him at email@example.com or on Twitter: @FrankGluck