Marion County surpasses 1,000 vaccinated, more than 20,000 register for vaccine


Rosemary Keegan, a registered nurse, raises her arms in celebration after receiving the first Moderna COVID-19 vaccination at Ocala Regional Medical Center on Wednesday. Ocala Health, which operated ORMC, received 3,000 doses of the vaccine. They plan to dispense the vaccines at Ocala Regional and West Marion Community Hospital. [Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette]

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Posted January 1, 2021 | By Brendan Farrell, Ocala Gazette | Photography by Bruce Ackerman

Rae Austin, of ORMC, draws a dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe on Wednesday. The hospital is vaccinating its health care workers. [Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette]

Just two weeks after Florida administered its first COVID-19 vaccine, Marion County has vaccinated over 1,000 residents, and more than 20,000 people have signed up to get the vaccine in the coming weeks and months.

Out of the 67 counties in Florida, Marion County is one of the 25 counties that has vaccinated at least 1,000 residents. The online form to sign up for a vaccine can be found at https://tinyurl.com/y98cxp6s.

Additionally, residents without internet access can call the COVID-19 hotline at 352-644-2590.

The state began vaccinating long-term health care workers and residents along with high-risk frontline health care workers. On Monday, the Marion County Health Department announced that residents who are 65 or older could sign up to receive the Moderna vaccine.

Health Department Public Information Officer Christy Jergens said the department has received more than 20,000 sign-ups as of 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday.

“Our initial vaccine shipment included 3,000 doses, and we are going to begin vaccinating individuals in the 65-and-over group starting next week,” Jergens said in an email. “We are not holding any vaccine back and are going to be scheduling additional appointments as more vaccine shipments arrive and become available.”

According to Jergens, the Health Department will finish the initial 3,000 vaccines within three weeks, with the help of partners like federally qualified health centers and hospitals. Vaccinations for those who are 65 and older will go into February as well.

Marion County reported nine days with a positivity rate above 10 percent between Dec. 13 and Dec. 27. In that same span, the county has had 11 days where it has reported at least 100 new cases. The county also has the one of lowest hospital bed capacities in the state, with an available capacity of just over 10 percent.


Rosemary Keegan, a registered nurse, raises her arms in celebration after receiving the first Moderna COVID-19 vaccination at Ocala Regional Medical Center on Wednesday. Ocala Health, which operated ORMC, received 3,000 doses of the vaccine. They plan to dispense the vaccines at Ocala Regional and West Marion Community Hospital. [Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette]


Rae Austin, the ORMC Pharmacy Operations Manager, right, passes the first COVID-19 vaccination, as Jerry Cummings, the ORMC Pharmacy Director, left, prepares more vaccinations. [Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette]


Rae Austin, the Ocala Regional Medical Center pharmacy operations manager, draws the COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe as she prepares the vaccinations for health care workers at the hospital on Wednesday. [Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette]


Dr. Nitin Dhaon, left, was the second health care worker to receive the COVID-19 vaccination at ORMC. Dr. Dhaon receives the shot from Jackie White, a registered nurse at ORMC. [Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette]