Palm Beach and Broward early voting sites introduce ‘Vote & Vax’

Chance to get vaccinated part of voter outreach for CD 20
Covid 19 vaccine record card positioned on top of I voted today stickers background with United States national colors or red, white and blue for legal requirements

Beginning Saturday, early voting in the Primary Special Election for parts of Broward and Palm Beach counties offers more than the chance to pick each parties’ candidates for Congress.

Voters can also elect to reduce their chances of getting COVID-19 greatly.

Early voting sites in both counties for the Primary Special Election will be offering COVID-19 vaccinations. They are calling it “Vote & Vax.” And it makes sense to Broward County Supervisor of Elections Joe Scott.

“Because much of FL-20 (Congressional District 20) is an underserved community, I see this as an opportunity to help busy, hardworking people accomplish two important tasks with one-stop,” Scott texted.

Early voting in the Primary Election to replace the late U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings starts Saturday and continues through Oct. 31 between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. Palm Beach County’s early voting sites will offer the Pfizer vaccine between noon and 7 p.m. on those days, and Broward County’s early voting sites will have them available 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. throughout early voting days.

The Department of Health and the Supervisors of Elections in both counties joined forces to make it happen.

Several majority-Black areas in Broward and Palm Beach counties comprise CD 20, including areas near West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale as well as sections of Lauderhill, Miramar, Pembroke Pines and Tamarac.

Data shows that vaccination rates for Black people are lagging behind their White counterparts. The Kaiser Family Foundation reports that White Floridians are 1.6 times more likely to be vaccinated than Black Floridians.

The idea of offering a shot with a ballot is not exactly new. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation tried out the idea with influenza vaccinations during national elections on Primary Election Day and General Election Day in 2008 and 2010. The project administered some 40,000 shots at the polls.

Now comes the COVID-19 vaccine. The Center for Tech and Civic Life reports that Hamilton County in Ohio, which includes the city of Cincinnati, was able to distribute some 8.400 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to early, in-person voters at a Primary Election last May. That added up to 20% of the voters who came to the polls also getting vaccinated against COVID-19.

Broward County is also adding a little extra incentive: A monthlong bus pass on Broward County Transit comes with getting vaccinated.

Anne Geggis

Anne Geggis is a South Florida journalist who began her career in Vermont and has worked at the Sun-Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News-Journal and the Gainesville Sun covering government issues, health and education. She was a member of the Sun-Sentinel team that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Parkland high school shooting. You can reach her on Twitter @AnneBoca or by emailing [email protected].


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