Baptist Health cancels appointments due to vaccine shortage as Marlins Park site opens

MIAMI (WSVN) - The limited supply of vaccines across South Florida has caused Baptist Health to start canceling appointments.

On Tuesday, Baptist Health made the announcement that “any appointments booked for Jan. 20 and all later dates are now canceled.”

Baptist Health also said no new appointments will be made but second-dose appointments were not affected.

“We have a supply problem,” said Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava. “We had a situation where the federal government was sending twice as much vaccine to the state. Now the governor had to divide it up and unfortunately, we did not get what was expected. It went down by half after the first few weeks, so it was expected a certain quantity, but it was not delivered.”

On Wednesday morning, Marlins Park opened up as a drive-thru vaccine distribution site.

The site will be open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day. Appointments are necessary to get vaccinated at the site.

Officials said approximately 1,000 doses will be administered at the site each day.

People can call 1-888-499-0840 for more information.

The new site opening comes as the U.S. topped a total of 400,000 COVID-19 deaths.

“We let it happen. Too many people let it happen, and we can’t let this continue,” said Dr. Aileen Marty, an infectious disease expert at Florida International University.

Health officials are also sounding the alarm about the new COVID-19 variant.

“The South African variant is extremely transmissible,” Marty said. “Only 1 in 10 persons seems to be protected from the South African variant of the people who should have immunity.”

Experts said the vaccines should work against the new strain of the virus.

Jackson Health System has changed a rule to prevent visitors from being vaccinated.

“We are asking everyone to bring a U.S. government photo ID with their date of birth,” Jackson Health said in a statement. “If their ID is issued by a foreign government, the patient has to bring two documents that prove they reside in the United States, such as a utility bill, lease or property-tax statement. Vaccination is only available at this time to those who live in the United States.”

On Wednesday, the City of Miami took steps to vaccinate the most vulnerable and launched a mobile program to give shots to seniors living in subsidized housing communities.

“Our hope is to get through the vulnerable population, hopefully, in no more than a month and a half,” said City of Miami Mayor Francis Suarez.

Miami-Dade County Public Schools has teamed up with Jackson Health System to help vaccinate school employees 65 and older in a two-day event.

State officials said Florida should be a national priority due to the high population of seniors.

“I get questions, ‘Have I gotten my vaccine yet?'” said Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis. “‘No,’ I said, ‘I don’t deserve a vaccine ’till every senior in this state gets their vaccines,’ so not only do I advocate for it but I believe that our seniors are the most vulnerable population but also the most precious population.”

“We must get this vaccine in people’s arms or we cannot get through this pandemic,” said Levine Cava.

For more information about making an appointment at Miami-Dade vaccination sites, click here. For sites in Broward, click here.

Anyone with questions and concerns about the coronavirus can call the Florida Department of Health’s 24-hour hotline at 1-866-779-6121.

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