Lee Health to receive 1K additional vaccines for health care workers, vulnerable

Lee Health is trying to make sure more people get the COVID-19 vaccine. They will be receiving another 1,000 doses from the State of Florida.

These doses are not only for health care workers but also for those vulnerable patients who happen to be under 65.

The extra doses come after Lee Health appealed to the State. Lee Health’s board of directors set a letter requesting more doses. It must have worked because now they’re getting 1,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine.

“Anybody who is on the front lines who is dealing with this COVID on a daily basis, we are like the high-risk patients, high-risk populations per-se,” Dr. Luis Aponte said.

Aponte is an independent doctor who works at all of the Lee Health hospitals. He says he is one of the lucky ones who already got his vaccine. He’s happy more frontline health care workers at Lee Health will get the same chance.

“I think they’re trying to do the right thing for their employees,” Aponte said. “Nobody wants to come to work and get sick and come back and get their loved ones sick as well.”

The focus of vaccination efforts at Lee Health this week is still on vulnerable people under 65. Lee Health says it will call patients who qualify to schedule an appointment for their shot.

Sharon Kudingo is among those people hoping for a shot. She’s 64 years old and has asthma, as well as being a survivor recovering from COVID-19.

“I would never want to be sick like that ever again,” Kudingo said. “When you can’t get up and even go to the bathroom, you feel like you’re dead.”

Although Kudingo made it through one bout with COVID-19, she’s has fears about contracting the virus or one of its variants again.

“If I get that, I don’t know what I am going to do,” Kudingo said. “I am worried.”

Monday, Dr. Larry Antonucci, the CEO and president of Lee Health, says the letter was less a critique of the State and more a push to help protect health care workers.

“I want to thank our board for advocating for the well-being of our employees, and the State for helping us protect those who are working so hard to keep our community safe,” Dr. Antonucci said.

Lee Health says it will continue to contact those eligible patients who are vulnerable and under 65 to schedule vaccination appointments. It says it will make sure to look at a patient’s medical history to prioritize who gets the vaccination first.

Lee Health asks you not to call to check on your eligibility for the vaccine because the health system will call you if you qualify.

Reporter:Breana Ross
Writer:Drew Hill
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