Following a letter addressed to Governor Ron DeSantis and local elected officials outlining the need for COVID-19 vaccines on Sanibel, F.I.S.H. of Sanibel-Captiva secured ‘pop-up’ vaccination site which took place on Tuesday, March 23rd at the Sanibel Community House. The letter stressed the complications that seniors on Sanibel and Captiva were facing, not only with technological capability scheduling vaccinations, but also the logistical hurdles of living on barrier islands with vaccination sites throughout Lee County.
The letter, signed by Maggi Feiner, President & CEO of FISH and Sheridan Snell, Board Chair of FISH asserted that seniors on the barrier islands are faced with many of the same challenges as those in rural and other parts of our state situated far from a vaccination site. The letter also addressed significant number of seniors that FISH already identified as being high priority for a local vaccination option due to their age, medical conditions, or transportation limitations.
The Department of Health responded by bringing a 250 dose pop-up vaccination site to the Sanibel Community House where islanders, scheduled by FISH, were able to come by appointment only to receive their one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccinations. As ‘it takes a village’, FISH was assisted by other island partners such as the Sanibel Community House, the Rotary Club of Sanibel-Captiva, the City of Sanibel Police Department, Sanibel Fire Department, Parish Nurses, Medical Offices, Pharmacies, City of Sanibel Officials and FISH volunteers.
“Maria Espinoza, our Assistant Executive Director, worked around the clock to make this happen,” states Feiner. “From accepting resident calls to coordinating volunteer efforts and facilitating the program onsite at the Community House, she took the lead on behalf of islanders in need. From the bottom of my heart, I would like to thank everyone who made this a smooth process and huge success.”
FISH will continue to work with island residents who have limited access or ability using technology to schedule appointments elsewhere in the County. In addition, FISH plans to continue advocating for vaccination opportunities on the islands. “250 vaccinations is an incredible step and allowed us to assist our most vulnerable residents in addition to others who qualified under the Governor’s executive order,” states Maria Espinoza, Assistant Executive Director at FISH. “However, we know that there are many more on the island that still need the vaccination and as the eligibility requirements broaden that number will grow,” adds Espinoza.