Disparity between demand and supply of COVID-19 vaccine persists as seniors continue to receive doses

MIAMI GARDENS, FLA. (WSVN) - The growing disparity between the demand and supply of the COVID-19 vaccine is causing a lot of confusion and frustration among South Floridians.

Local and state leaders have made it clear they want people 65 and older to continue to be the top priority for receiving the vaccine.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis introduced Henry Sayler, the one millionth senior to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, during an event held Friday in St. Petersburg.

“I just want to say how happy we are to live in the number one state in the union,” Sayler said.

DeSantis said shipments of the vaccine are not increasing as anticipated, and the vaccine shortage is causing several Miami-Dade sites to stop giving shots.

“We got 266,000 that’s in the street now,” the governor said in Key Largo. “We’re going to get 266,000 as it stands for next week’s shipment. We’re not getting enough vaccine. We have places that can do more — and we want them to do more — and if we get more than 266,000 doses, we will be able to do a lot more very quickly.”

On Friday, the state reported nearly 14,000 new cases of the virus, with 272 new deaths and a positivity rate of around 12.4%.

Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava signed an emergency order in an effort to take more control over distribution.

“We can make sure that the public is getting clear, centralized, good information and to avoid the confusion and chaos that has occurred,” she said. “Too many people in our community are desperate for the vaccine and trying to get appointments.”

At Jackson South Medical Center on Friday, 50 members of Dor Chadash Synagogue lined up to be vaccinated.

The event was part of Jackson Health System’s program, which partners with houses of worship to distribute doses of the vaccine. Nearly 55 churches, synagogues and mosques are on the list.

“Allowing us, who are in close contact with our members, to help them navigate a system that is very, very complicated,” Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center Rabbi Guivo Cohen said.

“We just need more vaccine, so more people can come and take full advantage of these opportunities,” Immanuel Temple Pastor John White said.

Jackson Health CEO Carlos Migoya announced each Miami-Dade County commissioner, 13 in total, will receive 100 COVID-19 appointment slots to distribute throughout the community.

He said the goal of giving the shots to commissioners is to get vaccines to patients in districts who are struggling to get an appointment. However, commissioners said they are split on the notion.

“To many of the people in our community, we are the people they access,” Commissioner Jean Monestime said.

“For me, that worries me quite a lot,” Commissioner Eileen Higgins said. “I’m not a doctor. I’m not a medical professional.”

They also called on the state to make the vaccine available to more essential workers through a resolution.

“I simply ask our governor to please add on the next round of vaccinations for our teachers, our law enforcement officers and other frontline workers to be prioritized for the vaccination,” said Commissioner Danielle Cohen Higgins.

Due to limited supply, both Mount Sinai and Baptist Health are no longer distributing the first dose of the vaccine.

In the meantime, state leaders are taking the necessary steps to ensure Florida residents are prioritized.

On Thursday, the State Surgeon General Dr. Scott A. Rivkees issued a public health advisory requiring recipients to show proof of residency before they get the vaccine.

Publix pharmacies in Monroe and Palm Beach counties are handing out vaccines to those that meet the criteria, but there are no Publix pharmacies distributing the vaccine in Miami-Dade and Broward counties.

There were no indications from DeSantis on Friday the supermarket chain will begin distributing the vaccine in Miami-Dade and Broward, but he expressed confidence that if more vaccines come to the area, they will be distributed without issue.

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