Poinciana retirement community earns COVID vaccine pod after appealing directly to Governor DeSantis

POINCIANA, Fla. — Central Florida’s first COVID-19 vaccination “pod” is up and running at a local retirement community, thanks in part to the persistence of the residents there.

Governor Ron DeSantis announced Wednesday the Solivita community in Poinciana near the Polk and Osceola County line would be getting a pod with vaccines available only to those residents.

READ: COVID vaccine residency requirement presents a challenge for Florida “Snowbirds”

Solivita management says they got the pod because some of their residents actually sent letters directly to DeSantis requesting vaccines.

Paul Beuther is one of those residents. He says he feels lucky.

“I wanted one as soon as they had it,” Beuther says.

After being isolated since March, Ann and Bruce Bowler say they were also eager to get the shot.

“We don’t shop. We don’t go out to eat. We don’t do anything...very very careful.”

READ: DeSantis says ‘pods’ will help the state to administer 60K COVID-19 vaccines daily

Solivita General Manager Sheri Wollschlager says their goal is to vaccinate about 1,000 of the community’s approximately 9,000 residents per day over three days. 7,000 of them are 65 years of age or older.

Wollschlager believes the persistence from her staff and the residents helped get them the vaccines.

“I put a call out to my residents and said, hey guys, help us out here,” Wollschlager recalls. “Let’s see if we can get it here...And my residents are determined.”

And with just four days notice, the Florida Department of Health, National Guard, and a team of volunteers made the pod a reality.

“Solivita went out of their way. It’s going off without a hitch.”

READ: Here’s what to expect after your second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine

Vaccinations at the three-day pod will continue Friday and Saturday. Residents will also be able to get the second Pfizer vaccine when they need it.

Solivita residents just need to call the activities office to make an appointment.

Cierra Putman

Cierra Putman, WFTV.com

Cierra Putman flew south to join Eyewitness News in July 2016.