How, who and where is getting vaccinated against COVID-19 in Miami-Dade County. The immunization process in this part of the country has already moved to the second stage
The first working week of the year is being very intense in the fight against COVID-19 in South Florida. Miami-Dade, the most densely populated county in the southern state, has been disproportionately affected by this pandemic. So far, more than 308,000 people have already contracted the virus (or at least were officially counted), adding 2525 new cases in the last 24 hours. The vaccine, here, as in the rest of the world, has become the great hope of 2021.
The county, working with its 34 municipalities and the state health department, announced a massive vaccination plan. Starting next week, the goal is to vaccinate 75,000 people a week. In this second stage health workers and over 65 years old (admitted to nursing homes or living on their own) will be inoculated.
The main hospital in the city of Miami (and the largest in the region), the Jackson Memorial, has already vaccinated most of its workers with the first dose and from today will begin vaccinating 14,000 people over the age of 65 a week.
In the morning hours, authorities launched the portal jhsmimi.org/comvac where those who qualified could request an appointment to receive their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine. In less than two hours, all available shifts for this week were exhausted. The only requirement to access the vaccine is to present an official document (which can be a passport) in which the date of birth of the person is specified to corroborate that they are indeed over 65 years of age. Proof of residence is not being required to administer the vaccine.
For its part, Baptist’s hospital system (the second largest in the region) will pull out its own shift system next week and announce a partnership with Florida International University through which they will use part of the university campus as a massive vaccination center.
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Mount Sinai Hospital will begin vaccinating people over 65 next week but is already making appointments through the website msmc.com.
Other private clinics, such as Leon Medical Center, have also received up to 10,000 doses to begin vaccinating their patients.
“The indication is that they use all the doses they have received. Federal authorities clearly pledged to send new shipments of vaccines for the second dose,” Gov. Ron DeSantis explained at a press conference.
Miami-Dade also received five thousand vaccines directly at the municipality that is using them to immunize adults over the age of 65 living in public housing, county employees over the age of 65, and firefighters.
The county launched the website miamidade.gov/vaccine where all the news about vaccination in Miami-Dade is posted, and links to pages that grant appointments are provided.
The cities that make up the county are still waiting for their vaccine shipments to start their own programs. The city of Miami at the moment has only received 850 doses that it is giving to its firefighters since this is the only authority that the city has received. But being the largest city in the county, it is working directly with state authorities to implement several vaccination programs in the coming weeks, including the conversion of the Marlins baseball stadium into a vaccination center, which has been operating until now as a testing center.
The next step, probably next week, will be the implementation of vaccination centers from cars. Unlike what happened with COVID-19 testing centers, vaccinations require a recovery room. Everyone who receives the dose should be monitored for 15 minutes to rule out an adverse reaction. This means more staff and more space. In Miami-Dade it is expected that very soon there will be a car vaccination center operating at Hard Rock Stadium, in Miami Gardens, one in Tropical Park, west of the county, and the aforementioned Marlins Stadium, in the city of Miami.
There are no clear dates yet on when vaccination criteria will be expanded to include essential workers.
Eventually, there will be the possibility of getting vaccinated in pharmacies and even supermarkets, but for now, the hospitals are still the ones who control the situation. Pharmacy chains CVS and Walgreens were charged with vaccinating people in nursing homes in Florida. Due to delays in the system, the state has decided to create its own vaccination force by hiring a thousand nurses who are directly dedicated to visiting nursing homes.