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Palm Beach County Officials Discuss COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout Process, Delays

Palm Beach County officials want state leaders to investigate the mismanagement of COVID-19 vaccines.

Palm Beach County’s officials say politics are behind the county’s unpredictable vaccine rollout.

Speaking at a press conference Thursday, county health director Dr. Alina Alonso said the department can give up to a 1,000 vaccines to seniors a day but the county doesn’t have enough supply to meet the growing demand.

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Alonso said the health department is sending emails to seniors as soon as more vaccines become available — but she doesn’t want to over-promise.

"I’m caught in between a rock and a hard place," Alonso said. "I’m caught between telling something that I’m gonna be lying to them or not saying anything and then having them be frustrated because I'm not saying anything to them."

She also weighed in on why Palm Beach County received a small batch for the estimated 1.5 million people in the county.

“I’m calling the people that are giving it out. The answer that I got is quite simple, actually. They gave us 20,000 when there were only 8 counties," Alonso said. "Once 67 counties came on board, they had to give us less. I don’t think they did any specific calculations, they just cut the numbers to be able to give everybody a little bit."

Mayor Dave Kerner says the lack of available vaccines are due in part to policies from the federal level.

Kerner is calling on federal leaders to investigate vaccine rollout issues in Palm Beach County and the state.

"US Senator Rick Scott and US Senator Marco Rubio, as our federal representatives in the Senate, to look into a larger picture of where are the vaccines federally and what can we anticipate," Kerner said. "Investigate. They do a lot of investigations in Washington. Investigate where our vaccines are and what the supply chain issues are."

Palm Beach County health officials say there are thousands of people in the COVID-19 vaccine queue. It could take months before some people receive an appointment.

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Wilkine Brutus is a multimedia journalist for WLRN, South Florida's NPR, and a member of Washington Post/Poynter Institute’ s 2019 Leadership Academy. A former Digital Reporter for The Palm Beach Post, Brutus produces enterprise stories on topics surrounding people, community innovation, entrepreneurship, art, culture, and current affairs.