ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Local health department leaders are getting creative to get more COVID-19 vaccines out into the community as Florida now accounts for one in five new COVID cases in the United States.
The Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County is partnering with nonprofits, workplaces and even DeliveRXd, a pharmacy delivery service that will come right to your home. They’re also sweetening the deal with a $10 grocery gift card for anyone who gets vaccinated.
It’s all part of an effort to get thousands of vaccines out to every neighborhood in Pinellas County.
Clarence Williams, the Pastor of Greater Mount Zion AME Church is helping with that mission.
“How many of you have nieces, nephews who have not been vaccinated? Cousins? Get on the phone! Talk to them!” he pled with his congregation.
Pastor Williams will host a Not My Son March at his church on Friday, August 6, which will include free COVID-19 vaccines. Williams said his efforts to spread the importance of the vaccination are now turning personal.
“I got a call this morning from a family member who we just saw in Washington DC two weeks ago and at that time, I was urging them to get vaccinated. Now, I got a call this morning that the gentleman just passed away from COVID,”he explained.
Williams doesn’t want to lose anyone else.
“The current state of public health in America seems to be taking a step backwards and that’s troubling for us. Everyone is tired of the masks and the mask mandate,” he elaborated.
Leaders at the Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County say the biggest factor is building trust to get the vaccine out to more people.
“What we’re finding is that people are actually asking friends, relatives and coworkers who got the vaccine what the experience was like and they’re listening to that,” Spokesperson Tom Iovino of the Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County explained.
Health department workers are also going out to hotels including the Safety Harbor Resort and Spa, where they will stop on August 4, to focus on vaccinating hospitality workers, guests and community members.
Lisa Margarone in the Safety Harbor Resort and Spa’s marketing department said they’re glad to partner with health leaders.
“It’s just a way to say we’re all in this together and this is a spot they can come that’s centrally located. While we know that becoming vaccinated is a personal and individual choice, we think it’s important to partner with the community and offer a convenient place for people to come.”
Florida ranks 24th in the United States for vaccinations, with 49% of people eligible for the shot vaccinated, according to the Florida Department of Health.
Williams is doing everything he can to increase that number.
“We don’t need for families to go through the hardship and hurt of losing a loved one just to prove a point,” he added.
The Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County will also offer the vaccine at the Dali Museum on August 6 and the Gulfport Casino on August 7.