Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Vaccination Rates Rise in Boca and Delray: Who Got It By ZIP Code

Two ZIP codes in and around Boca Raton and Delray Beach have among the highest rates in Palm Beach County of residents 65 and over who have received the COVID-19 vaccine.

One of those areas includes the gated communities in northwest Boca Raton and neighborhoods west of them to U.S. 441. The vaccination rate there is 96.1 percent. Farther north, in the ZIP code that runs west of Delray from Jog Road to U.S. 441, the rate is 85.6 percent.

County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay asked staff to compile the map. It covers vaccines administered between December and February. The numbers don’t reflect where people got their shots, just how much of the targeted population has been vaccinated. Gov. DeSantis departed from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations in late December and made the 65-and-over population eligible before essential workers.

Click the map to view in greater detail

The high rate in those aforementioned ZIP codes–33434 and 33446–is not surprising. Residents tend to be more affluent. Also, the first one includes Century Village west of Boca Raton and the second includes Kings Point, another massive retirement community west of Delray Beach. DeSantis designated both for popup vaccination sites outside of the county health department.

Numbers also are high in and around St. Andrews Country Club (75.1 percent) and West Delray between Military Trail and Jog Road–70.3 percent. Those areas also are more affluent, but income isn’t always the main indicator of whether people get vaccinated. Example: The ZIP code for coastal Boca Raton includes Royal Palm Yacht and Country Club, one of the wealthiest parts of the city, but the rate there is just 54.6 percent. In the adjoining ZIP code to the west, it’s below half at only 45.6 percent.

Why? One theory is political affiliation. More Democrats live where vaccination rates are higher. National polls show that Republicans are more hesitant–and even resistant–to public health advice to get the shots. As more people are vaccinated, that hesitancy may drop.

Overall, however, the map does show that vaccinations generally follow the money, in large part because people have Internet service and can more easily get to vaccination sites. Rates are much lower in Lake Worth Beach, Palm Springs and surrounding areas that are poorer and home to many new immigrants of color. Weinroth said the county’s efforts there are “getting pushback.” DeSantis has put no popup sites there.

According to Becker’s Hospital Review, Florida ranks just 38th in the rate of vaccine doses administered based on the number received, at 76.6 percent. Wisconsin ranks first, at nearly 93 percent.

Politico: Baptist Health vaccinated donors

On the subject of favored treatment for vaccines, Politico reported that the fundraising group for Baptist Health South Florida–parent company of Boca Raton Regional Hospital–offered doses to six-figure donors.

According to the report, Baptist Health made the offer on New Year’s Day. Eight days earlier, DeSantis had announced that any Floridian 65 and over would be eligible to get the vaccine. Those first in line had included residents of nursing homes and health care workers, so many doses had gone to hospitals.

Alexandra Villoch is CEO of Baptist Health Foundation South Florida. “As Baptist Health continues the immunization program for its frontline workers,” Villoch said in that Jan. 1 email, “we will also be expanding immunization efforts to include broader community members related to Baptist Health, such as our Giving Society members who meet the designated criteria.”

Giving Society members donate at least $100,000. The “designated criteria,” Politico reported, included medical conditions that could have posed a risk for someone under 65 who contracted COVID-19. At that time, those residents were not generally eligible under state guidelines.

Baptist Health also participated in a popup site at the Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo, where company CEO Brian Keeley has a home. DeSantis claimed that he was not involved in setting up the site. Baptist Health and Monroe County said otherwise. No one from Baptist Health or the governor’s office returned Politico’s requests for comment.

Ocean Breeze update

country club

At tonight’s meeting, the Boca Raton City Council will approve a new agreement with the Greater Boca Raton Beach and Park District for the Ocean Breeze property. The BPD board already approved the agreement unanimously last week.

The new agreement became necessary when the owners of the Boca Raton Resort & Club donated the golf course at Boca Country Club to the city as a replacement for Boca Raton Municipal. Previously, the city and district had been working to convert the closed course on the Ocean Breeze site in Boca Teeca.

Though golf may be one of the amenities on the 200-acre property, the agreement will say that other recreational uses are possible. The city and district also resolved issues about access to the site. The district owns the east side of the property and is reimbursing the city for bond payments on the west side.

On April 26, the council and district board will meet to talk about possible options for Ocean Breeze. Participants will discuss the recreation survey that the two sides commissioned.

FAU Football attendance

Plans may change, but Florida Atlantic University wants to fill its football stadium for games this fall.

That news came from University Press, the campus publication, which reported President John Kelly’s comment at a trustees meeting. The university anticipates the possibility based on President Biden’s hope that all students can return to classrooms in August.

Kelly said that FAU would continue to make decisions based on public health. FAU Stadium holds 30,000 spectators. The university, not Boca Raton, makes decisions about capacity. NCAA and Conference USA policies also might apply.

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Randy Schultz
Randy Schultz
Randy Schultz, a native of Hartford, Connecticut, has been a South Florida journalist since 1974. He worked for The Miami Herald until 1976 and for The Palm Beach Post from 1976 until 2014, where he served as managing editor and editorial page editor. Since 2014, he has written a politics blog, commentaries and other articles for Boca magazine. His writing has earned first-place awards from the Florida Magazine Association and the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors. Randy has lived in Boca Raton with his wife, Shelley Huff-Schultz, since 1985. His son, daughter-in-law and their three children also live in Boca Raton.

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