Gardens gets a shot in the arm: Vaccine site opens

Burns Road Community Center gymnasium prepped to handle 1,000 vaccinations a day.

The gymnasium at the Burns Road Community Center is about to draw crowds to a form of exercise that has nothing to do with basketball hoops and volleyball nets. 

The new playbook calls for senior citizens to roll up their sleeves to get a coveted shot in the arm. 

For the first time outside a Publix or other pharmacy, starting at 9 a.m. Feb. 24, seniors will be able to get vaccinated against COVID-19 in north county.

Prompted by County Commissioner Maria Marino, a former Gardens councilwoman, county and city officials joined together Tuesday to formally unveil the vaccine center.

About 500 people with appointments will begin lining up on the first day, with another 500 set to get a dose of the Moderna vaccine the next day and 1,000 more on Day 3, county health officials said.  

The sidewalk leading to the separate gymnasium entrance where vaccines will be administered at the Burns Road Community Center. (Joel Engelhardt photo)

Palm Beach County Health Care District workers will be there to prep the vials and county and Palm Beach Gardens firefighters will handle the injections.

Vaccines will be available by appointment-only with recipients getting into the gymnasium through a separate entrance east of the main doors.  Appointments may be made at but, at this time, only for people 65 or older.

In Palm Beach County, 250,000 have been vaccinated in about two months, “quite an astounding achievement,” Marino said, despite what she acknowledged as a “bumpy” rollout. The county depleted its stock of vaccines in January as Gov. Ron DeSantis shifted county doses to Publix before shifting back a few weeks later.

On the way in to the new north county vaccination center at the Burns Road Community Center gymnasium on Feb. 23, 2021. (Joel Engelhardt photo)

Palm Beach Gardens Mayor Carl Woods and council members Chelsea Reed and Rachelle Litt joined Marino and Health Care District CEO Darcy Davis, County Health Director Alina Alonso, County Administrator Verdenia Baker and Palm Beach Gardens City Manager Ron Ferris for the 3 p.m. Tuesday news conference and tour.

The gymnasium offers those getting the vaccine plenty of space to line up six feet apart as workers walk them through their paperwork.

The center of the gym is devoted to about a half-dozen tables where firefighters will give them the shot.

The site is designed to provide up to 1,000 shots a day.

While the Health Care District distributes vaccines at the South Florida Fairgrounds off Southern Boulevard and the South County Civic Center west of Delray Beach, it is venturing north for the first time at the site just east of Military Trail and south of PGA Boulevard.

Health Care District CEO Darcy Davis looks out over the Burns Road Community Center gym on Feb. 23, 2021, the day before it opens as a COVID-19 vaccination site. (Joel Engelhardt photo)

Thank you for reading. You may also want to check out Joel’s recent posting on the status of plans for a Tri-Rail commuter line in north county. Joel, a longtime Palm Beach Gardens resident, wrote and edited stories at The Palm Beach Post for nearly 30 years before departing in December 2020. Joel welcomes your comments and news tips at 

Copyright © 2021 Joel Engelhardt. All rights reserved.

Author: Joel Engelhardt

Joel Engelhardt is an award-winning newspaper reporter and editor based in Palm Beach Gardens. He spent more than 40 years in the newspaper business, including 28 years at The Palm Beach Post. As a reporter, he covered countywide growth, the 2000 election and the birth of Cityplace in West Palm Beach. As an editor, he oversaw probes into the opioid scourge, private prisons, police-involved shootings and more. For seven years, he worked on the paper’s editorial board. Joel left The Post in December 2020. He and his wife, Donna, have lived together in Palm Beach Gardens since 1992.

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