Zoo Miami opens as vaccination site as Miami-Dade County faces possible vaccine shortage

SOUTHWEST MIAMI-DADE, FLA. (WSVN) - As another COVID-19 vaccination site opens in South Florida, officials are sounding the alarm about a possible shortage of the vaccine.

Starting Friday, seniors 65 and older can get vaccinated at Zoo Miami in Southwest Miami-Dade.

The county, however, only has enough vaccine doses to keep the site open for a few days.

“We thought we might have seen more of it by now,” said Miami-Dade Chief Medical Officer Dr. Peter Paige. “We’re cautiously optimistic.”

“We’ve been sitting in the house,” said Hilda Hamsa while she waited in line. “We just feel like, we’re just so happy to finally get some hope. I don’t understand why they would not get enough vaccines, so it’s very concerning.”

Hilda and her husband Evan said the drive from Parkland was worth it.

“We traveled an hour, plus my wife is a nurse,” Evan said. “She said, ‘Wherever they have it, that’s where we’re going to go.'”

Barry and Nancy were also excited to get their first dose of the vaccine.

“Everybody’s scrambling to get these things right now,” said Barry. “It’s like hitting a lottery when you do get it.”

Both couples said it was not easy getting their appointments.

Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said her office and mayors across the area are trying to get more vaccines to South Florida, but their hands are tied. The state decides how much vaccine each county receives, and the federal government decides how much vaccine each state gets.

She added the shortage only means first doses may slow down, and it should not affect anyone’s second dose.

“The biggest problem is supply,” she said. “We don’t not have the vaccine for the demand. We’re telling the governor we want three times or four times the amount of vaccine that we’re getting. That’s what we are capable of distributing in Miami-Dade County.”

The Washington Post reports there are no vaccines left in federal reserves, meaning every dose is coming straight from the manufacturing line.

“Of course, I’m worried,” Miami Mayor Francis Suarez said. “It’s not just that we don’t have enough. We’re not getting it fast enough.”

While members of the medical community are saying they are seeing encouraging signs when it comes to COVID-19 cases following the holidays, the vaccine distribution is hitting yet another roadblock.

“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. “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.”

Meanwhile, Broward County Mayor Steve Geller said nearly 72,000 people in the county have received a vaccine shot so far.

“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,” he said.

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

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.

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

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