NORTHWEST MIAMI-DADE, FLA. (WSVN) - A new federal mass vaccination site has opened at Miami-Dade College’s North Campus in an effort to get the vaccine to people who need it the most.

The site opened on Wednesday and will operate from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day.

“This is an eight-week mission, as of right now, and we have 2,000 to 3,000 every day,” said Florida Division of Emergency Management spokesperson Bruce Roberts. “We are doing close to 40 to 50 vaccinations at a time.”

On Wednesday, site officials said 1,500 vaccine doses were administered. Site officials at around noon said about 800 people have been vaccinated just on Thursday alone.

The corner of Miami Dade College’s North campus parking lot is one of the first sites in South Florida where people can pick what vaccine they want to receive: Pfizer or Johnson and Johnson.

“I’m very grateful, and I’m very appreciative,” said recipient Michelle Demel.

“It’s definitely a big relief,” said another recipient.

Demel opted for the Johnson and Johnson vaccine due to it being a single dose.

“I just wanted it done. I wanted it over,” Demel said.

“I heard that this did not have a lot of side effects. It’s a one-time shot, I don’t like taking medicines. One-time shot, so I choose to take it,” said Nevalea Lewis, who got the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.

“I figured it’s one shot and I know that I’d be covered,” said Shaun Baldie, who got the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.

While others in line chose the two-dose Pfizer.

“Important to me because I don’t want to catch that virus. That’s why I came to take it,” said Pfizer recipient Nathaniel Hughley.

As of Wednesday, anyone in Florida 65 and older is eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine as well as first responders at least 50 years old and all teachers.

The state is also allowing anyone 18 years and older with a severe underlying health condition to receive the vaccine if they fill out a form and have it signed by their healthcare provider.

“If you’re 65 and over, if you meet the other criteria — firefighter, law enforcement 50 and over, or a school teacher or employee, or the medically vulnerable with the form — you can come here and get vaccinated and hopefully get in and out very quickly,” said Mike Jachles with the Florida Division of Emergency Management.

The federally run site doesn’t require appointments, but people are urged to pre-register to reserve their place in line.

Those walking away fully immunized said for them, there’s no returning to pre-pandemic life just yet.

“We’re going to keep wearing our mask and keeping our distance from people until everyone just hopefully gets vaccinated. Maybe by the summer we can get on a road trip or something and get away for a while,” said Pfizer recipient Peggy Rice.

Denise Walker, who received her second Pfizer vaccine, said following safety guidelines is still important.

“We still have to practice that and respect other people who haven’t had the shot,” said Walker.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis spoke at a media conference in Citrus County, discussing the possibility of expanding access to the vaccine soon.

“The age-based approach we think is the most effective to reduce mortality,” said DeSantis. “At the same time, the federal government is the one sending us the vaccine. If they want it to be for all ages, then they have the ability to go and do that.”

For more information about vaccination sites in Florida, click here.

If you would like to pre-register for a vaccine at the new site, click here.

To check for vaccination appointment availability at Publix locations, click here.

For more information about vaccinations at Holy Cross Health and a list of the medical conditions that will qualify patients for an appointment, click here.

If you have a severe underlying health condition that makes you eligible for the vaccine and need a form for your healthcare to sign, click here. The form can also be found below.


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