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The Florida Department of Health in Polk County announced Dec. 30 that it had received a limited amount of the COVID-19 vaccine and that department officials are currently developing a plan for distribution that meets the requirements of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ executive order as quickly as possible.

Per a release last week, priority will be given to those 65 years of age and older who meet eligibility as the vaccine becomes available. The department is working with its partners to help notify the community when this is available.

Residents are encouraged to be sure to check the Polk Department of Health website, http://polk.floridahealth.gov, for updated information on this process.

Also, officials encourage residents to continue to check www.polk-county.net for ongoing updates on vaccine distribution, COVID-19 testing sites and daily statistics.

The transition to vaccination for the general public follows a period during which frontline healthcare workers are being vaccinated.

Locally, AdventHealth operates AdventHealth Heart of Florida Hospital, in Haines City, and the vaccination process for staff there was to begin this week, after this edition of the Four Corners News-Sun went to press. AdventHealth staff have already begun the process at other locations, including the nearby Celebration location. AdventHealth officials said last week that 12,000 members of the healthcare provider’s Central Florida team had already been vaccinated as of that time.

“AdventHealth is developing a robust community vaccination plan and anticipates beginning this process in Central Florida for people 65 years and older in upcoming weeks,” read a statement. “We will continue to follow the vaccination guidelines as set by state and federal authorities.

We will provide media and the public details on this process as soon as possible. All information on vaccine distribution for the public will be posted on www.CoronavirusVaccineFacts.com.”

Those interested can go to www.CoronavirusVaccineAlerts.com to sign up for email updates on when vaccines will be available from AdventHealth.

“This has been a herculean effort and we are grateful for the support of Gov. Ron DeSantis and other state leaders whose quick actions have helped us quickly vaccinate our frontline health care workers,” said Brian Adams, CEO of AdventHealth’s Polk County market, who is leading the COVID response for the organization’s Central Florida Division. “The vaccine is safe, effective, and the greatest tool we have in protecting ourselves and helping curb the spread of COVID-19 in our community.

On Jan. 4, county officials announced that residents and staff of Rohr Home, in Bartow, received the first shot of the two-injection vaccination against COVID-19 Monday morning. The Rohr Home is a 60-bed skilled nursing home facility that specializes in long-term and sub-acute care.

“We are happy to be able to provide this initial dose of the vaccine to our residents and staff at the Rohr Home,” said Marcia Andresen, director of Polk County’s Health and Human Services Division. “This vaccine provides another tool to help us combat the spread of the pandemic and protect our residents and staff.”

A secondary shot will be given at a later date. Monday’s inoculation followed the guidelines established by Gov. Ron DeSantis’ executive order that providers can only administer the vaccine, in this instance, to long-term care facility residents and staff, and health care personnel with direct patient contact.