Elderly people begin to overwhelm COVID-19 vaccination sites

MIAMI Florida Government, Ron DeSantis, begs for patience from anxious elderly people waiting their turn to be vaccinated against COVID-19, as confusion and frustration have arisen over the availability of the life-saving vaccine among some of the most vulnerable in the Florida state.

Elderly people at vaccinations in the state have formed long queues – some camping overnight with grass chairs and blankets – hoping to gain immunity to fight the virus. Before the sun rose Wednesday morning, one vaccine supply for one day in southwest Florida had already been taken into account for the day, prompting officials to dismiss someone else.

Elderly people in other parts of the state were frustrated by busy phone lines and websites that would no longer make new vaccinations.

DeSantis has chosen Florida residents over the age of 65 to be the next in line for the state’s vaccine supply, now that most health workers and other first responders are protected from the virus, which has infected more than 1.2 million Florida residents.

On Wednesday, health officials reported 13,871 new cases and 139 new deaths, which increased the death toll to 21,857.

More than 82% of those who died from the disease were older than 65, and that underscores the urgency of getting older Floridians vaccinated, the governor said Wednesday.

“The COVID-19 vaccine supply is still limited. “We do not currently have enough vaccine for all four million senior citizens in the state of Florida,” the governor told a news conference in Delray Beach. “We’re going to get there, but it’s not going to happen overnight. So be patient. ”

Amid uncertainty over how quickly the state can obtain more doses of two vaccines now available, health departments and hospitals across the state are scrambling to deliver the vaccine to the elderly.

Lin Humphrey, a university professor whose 81-year-old mother lives with him in a high-rise apartment in Miami, said it took him about 80 calls to call someone at a Miami Beach hospital that began vaccinating the elderly last week. has. with limited doses of the vaccines.

“It reminded me of the ’80s where you had to call a radio station to be the 10th caller to get concert tickets,” Humphrey said. “When I finally got through, I was crying over the phone with the woman.”

Early Wednesday morning, health officials in Lee County, home of Fort Myers, announced that all three had reached the vaccination sites on their third day to deliver injections to residents 65 years and older. People stood in a queue outside a library, leisure center and theater to snatch one of the few hundred doses available after health authorities said no appointment was needed, as it was at first -one-first-base basis is applied.

The Orlando Sentinel reported that state health officials in Orange County closed its online portal on Tuesday after making 30,000 appointments within about 24 hours. And the Broward Health Hospital Network said they were stopping planning vaccine appointments on the same day they started “because of the overwhelming demand from the community.”

Abdulla Benkhatar, 90, was in the front row of a recreation center in Fort Myers on Tuesday morning.

‘We’ve been home for almost ten months now. It is important for me for my health and to do things that I would like to do and become normal again, ”he told WZVN-TV.

The Florida Department of Health said Tuesday that it administered doses to about 175,465 in the state, most of whom were health workers, emergencies and residents of aid agencies.

Some elderly people began receiving shots on Monday in the first eight provinces that awarded their vaccinations last week. The other 59 provinces of the state are expected to start receiving their share of vaccines soon.

In Miami, Jackson Health System began administering vaccines to those 65 and older who receive care in the network. Music producer Emilio Estefan, 67, and Miami Dolphins senior vice president Nat Moore, 69, received the first dose of the vaccine Wednesday in front of reporters at Jackson Memorial Hospital.

Jackson Health said it will launch an online platform next week for residents to book appointments to get the chance.

Provinces and hospitals have followed different approaches to how they administer the vaccine, causing confusion, frustration and lines.

“They are going to work through issues as they work,” the governor said. ‘If you’re 65 or older, you’ll be able to access it. It may not be for everyone today, maybe not next week. But over the next few weeks you will have the chance to get it, as long as we still get the stock. ”

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried said she wrote to DeSantis, recommending that he mobilize the Florida National Guard to distribute COVID-19 vaccines, arguing that implementation was too slow.

“Despite the fact that the state received 1,218,300 doses of vaccines, only 15% of them were administered,” she said in the letter. “The lack of preparation and progress in administering these critical, life-saving vaccines is inexcusable.”


Local 10 news reporters Madeleine Wright, Amy Viteri and Saira Anwer contributed to this report.

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