MIAMI (WSVN) – South Florida-based grocery store chain Fresco y Más is doing its part to help keep COVID-19 cases down, as President Joe Biden gave a major update in the rollout of the vaccine, and Dr. Anthony Fauci took part in a virtual conversation about the virus with the local Muslim community.
Rita Boggeman drove an hour and a half from Delray Beach to receive her first vaccine shot at the Fresco y Más near Southwest 137th Avenue and 183rd Street in Southwest Miami-Dade, Thursday.
“I’ve been trying everything to get a vaccine,” she said.
The supermarket is one of multiple locations across the country offering the vaccine as part of the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program for COVID-19 Vaccination. Select Publix, Winn-Dixie, Walmart and Sam’s Club locations are also part of the program.
Boggeman said it was not easy to secure an appointment to begin receiving the vaccine.
“I spent a lot of time trying to call and go on websites,” she said.
But on a TV interview Thursday morning, Fauci said hope is on the horizon.
“By the time we get to April, that will be what I would call, for lack of better wording, open season,” he said. “Namely, virtually everybody and anybody in any category can start to get vaccinated.”
Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said that in about two months, everyone who wants to receive the COVID vaccine will be able to do so.
“As we get into March and April, the number of available doses will allow for much more of a mass vaccination approach,” he said.
That approach is being made possible by Biden’s plan to purchase another 200 million doses of the vaccine, securing a total of 600 million doses for the federal government. Those doses would be enough to vaccinate 300 million Americans by the end of summer.
“That means lives will be saved,” said Biden.
The commander in chief made the announcement a couple of weeks ago, but during a visit to the National Institutes of Health on Thursday, he confirmed it is a done deal.
“Just this afternoon, we signed final contracts for 100 million more Moderna and 100 million more Pfizer vaccines,” he said. “We’re also able to move up the delivery dates with an additional 200 million vaccines to the end of July, faster than we expected.”
Fauci’s remarks and Biden’s announcement come as the Florida Department of Health reported 8,525 new cases of the virus and a positivity rate just above 6%.
Speaking with reporters on Thursday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said that over a third of the state’s seniors have received at least one dose, and they will continue to be his top priority.
“Hang in there. The supply is still not what we’d like,” he said. “We’re getting what we can from the feds, but I do think it’s going to get better.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 10 million Americans have been fully vaccinated, and 33 million have received the first dose.
Boggeman said she feels blessed to be a part of this group.
“I just want to be able to get back into life at this point,” she said,
With variants of the virus spreading throughout South Florida, local mayors have a message to those hoping to come to the state for spring break.
“Understand, you are not going to be elbow to elbow to elbow, without masks, spreading COVID,” said Broward County Mayor Steven Geller.
Meanwhile, Fauci spoke virtually to the South Florida Muslim Federation. He talked about the likely outcome if world leaders are unable to control the spread of the virus.
“Over a period of time, we will have to vaccinate people with updated and upgraded vaccines,” he said.
Moments before she received her first dose, all Boggeman could think about is the time her 17-year-old grandson stopped by at the start of the pandemic, unable to share a simple hug.
“It tore me up, and it tore him up, so this is really, really important for me,” she said.
Fresco y Más officials said their goal is to vaccinate 400 people a week.
Anyone with questions and concerns about the coronavirus can call the Florida Department of Health’s 24-hour hotline at 1-866-779-6121.
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