More seniors head to South Florida vaccination sites as demand remains high

SOUTHWEST MIAMI-DADE, FLA. (WSVN) - Vaccine distribution sites across South Florida seem to be delivering doses to seniors in a timely manner while officials say the demand remains higher than supply.

7News cameras captured officials at Tropical Park sending cars into two different lines: one for seniors with a vaccine appointment and the other for those who were getting tested for COVID-19.

“My mother passed away in July of COVID, so as soon as we could get a vaccine, we wanted to get it,” said Mirta Schmidt as she waited in line to get vaccinated.

Miami-Dade Chief Medical Officer Dr. Peter Paige expressed optimism about the recent COVID-19 surge, but it’s not the same story regarding the county’s vaccine supply.

Geronimo Schmidt received his first dose of the vaccine over the weekend, but the couple had to wait until Thursday morning for Mirta’s appointment.

“The shot was OK,” said Geronimo. “I had no reactions to it, so everything was fine. I want to resume my life as normal as I could. Very few places, very few vaccines, the process is not very efficient.”

Gilberto Londono said his daughter made an appointment for him.

“I work in the airport,” he said. “I have contact with many people. To me, it’s very important to do this.”

The day prior, Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said approximately 80,000 people in Miami-Dade County had been vaccinated so far.

“We need more sites, we need more vaccines,” she said.

The health department reports nearly 775,000 people statewide have received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Zoo Miami in Southwest Miami-Dade will open later this week as another vaccine distribution site to seniors who have an appointment.

“Miami-Dade is going to get zero. We’re not going to be getting any for our sites,” Miami-Dade Emergency Director Frank Rollason said. “That being the case, we have what is planned out for the balance of this week and the opening of Friday for the zoo. We will make it through the weekend. Then, for all intents and purposes, we will be closed.”

City of Miami commissioners met on Thursday morning to discuss getting vaccine doses to homebound senior residents.

“What I want to do is have an in-home vaccination,” said Miami Commissioner Manolo Reyes.

The commissioners also discussed tourists from other countries coming into the city to get vaccinated.

“I think we should prioritize our citizens, our seniors in particular, our most vulnerable citizens, and I think the best and fastest way to get to them is to go directly to these senior housing projects,” said Miami Commissioner Alex Diaz De La Portilla.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Florida has received 1,680,200 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and 705,398 have been administered.

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez said the city is expecting to receive 4,500 vaccine doses from the health department, but it is not clear when they will get them.

“Take all legal steps necessary to prevent non-residents of the City of Miami from receiving vaccines prior to the elderly and vulnerable population of our community and the general population of our city,” Suarez said.

Meanwhile, Broward County Mayor Steve Geller reminded residents to continue taking precautions against COVID-19.

“Please wear your mask and social distance,” he said. “There’s just not a right or wrong answer. Everybody would like to be vaccinated right now. Everybody should be vaccinated right now. It’s not possible to vaccinate everybody right now.”

According to Geller, approximately 72,000 people in the county have received the first dose of the vaccine.

“I believe that the vaccine rollout in Broward County is going very well,” he said. “If you look at the statistics on the amount of shots that have gotten into arms in Broward County, we are doing a pretty good job. We’re ahead of the state average.”

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

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