One Manatee County vaccine recipient is counting the days before she can see her grandson.By Casey Albritton

MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) – On Wednesday, people 65 years of age and older started receiving the first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in Manatee County. CW44’s Casey Albritton spoke with a recipient of the first round of those vaccines and for her, the vaccine delivers peace of mind.

Bucking with CDC guidance, Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis chose to prioritize Florida residents age 65 and older to receive those COVID-19 vaccines versus the suggested 75 and older. As CW44 News At 10 reported this week, all appointments to receive the vaccine through January 4 filled up quickly.

One Manatee County resident, Mary Chesna was more than ready to step in line for her vaccine. “We’ve been waiting since March 17, since the day we were quarantined down here.”

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For many people, like Mary Chesna, getting the COVID-19 vaccine means more than just protection for herself. “For me, it’s going to be a chance to see my grandchildren,” said Chesna, who’s excited to get the second dose of the vaccine so she can finally travel. “I was there the day [my grandson] was born, and now he’s going to turn one in a few weeks, so I haven’t seen him since then. So that’s what I want to do. That’s the first thing I’m going to do.”

Chesna is one of 300 people who were scheduled to get the Moderna Covid vaccine at the Manatee County Public Safety Center on Wednesday. “I was super excited. I had trouble sleeping last night,” said Chesna.

Manatee County Health Officials say their goal is to vaccinate 300 people per day, and their first delivery was 3,500 vaccines. “We had a nice long line here early this morning. We started at 9 o’ clock for 65 and older,” said Manatee County spokesperson, Christopher Tittel, whom says he’s glad residents in the county can get vaccinated. “The very first folks, 65 or up in Manatee County to get this, an elderly couple – they were very excited, they were very happy. They said it was a long time coming.”

For Tittel, he knows just how serious COVID-19 is. “This friend of mine, he was actually in the hospital for several months, and he made it through, thank goodness, but he made it through with some permanent damage: lung damage.”

Both Tittel and Chesna say they are hopeful for the future. “I’m hoping this vaccine will protect people in that way so they are not suffering the way my friend suffered,” said Tittel.

Conversely, Chesna’s intent is laser-focused. “As soon as I can. I’m going to get on a plane and go see my grandson.”

Manatee County officials say vaccine appointments are filled up through January 4, 2021, but they say the public should keep checking for information on new appointment availability. The county is expected to announce additional dates and locations for appointments on Monday, January 4th at 2:00pm. Continue checking this page for available appointments. 

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