SOUTHWEST MIAMI-DADE, FLA. (WSVN) – Appointments for the COVID-19 vaccine filled up fast on Friday, and now those seniors who were able to secure their spot for their dose began receiving the vaccine at Baptist Health on Monday.
7News cameras captured seniors 65 and older, those who are high-risk for the virus and Baptist employees lining up outside Baptist Health South Florida in Southwest Miami-Dade, Monday morning.
The employees in the line are those who are receiving their second dose.
Baptist Health will start with 13,000 appointments, but officials expect to expand that number as more doses become available in the coming weeks.
“I feel happy that I’m going to be able to protect myself and my family and the rest of the people that I meet,” said Adriano Garcia, as he waited in line to get vaccinated.
Baptist Health said the initial vaccine rollout will take eight weeks.
Steve and Melissa Nelson were hopeful they’d be able to get their shots, but they didn’t have an appointment, and it appeared they were turned away.
“We’ve pretty much been quarantined for 10 months,” said Steve Nelson. “You know, very little contact with outside and we’re tired of it.”
“The whole rollout has been so inefficient and chaotic,” said Melissa Nelson. “Nothing’s organized, you know, you go on the websites, the portals crash right away.”
In Miami Gardens, Hard Rock Stadium put COVID-19 testing on pause to distribute the vaccine to seniors.
On Sunday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis spoke to the media at Lynn Haven Senior Center in Bay County, announcing seven new COVID-19 vaccination sites across the state.
He said it is part of a partnership with local churches and worship centers.
“We’re doing 50,000; 60,000 shots throughout the state of Florida, and we are trying to do much more. We’re trying to get more vaccines, so we’re excited about the progress,” he said.
Two of the new sites are in South Florida: one in Fort Lauderdale and the other at Koinonia Worship Center in Hollywood.
State officials have ramped up efforts to ensure seniors receive the vaccine, as sites throughout South Florida pop up throughout Broward and Miami-Dade counties.
It’s not a moment too soon. On Sunday, the Florida Department of Health reported more than 12,000 new cases of COVID-19 and 108 deaths.
More than 22 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been distributed to hospitals and pharmacies nationwide so far, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports fewer than 7 million people have gotten their first dose.
“This is such a precious resource, and really, this waste should not be tolerated at all,” said CNN medical analyst Dr. Leana Wen.
Some hospitals have been forced to throw away vaccines that quickly expired once they were taken out of cold storage.
Wen said there may be a lag in vaccine reporting, but some action can be taken to improve the process.
“If there are, let’s say, three doses in a vial that are not used, the pharmacists or nurses should be allowed to give that to whoever is around instead of wasting it,” she said.
Miami-Dade County officials confirmed they are going to release a limited number of COVID-19 vaccine appointment slots beginning at 2 p.m. on Monday.
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