COVID-19 vaccines are now available in South Florida, and the rules on who can get a shot, where and when can be confusing.
Here’s what you need to know:
What’s new today?
▪ Florida healthcare officials have wasted more than 3,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines that were either broken or left unused after thawing, a spokesman for the Department of Health said Wednesday. That raw total may seem high at a time when pandemic-fatigued Floridians all over the state are awaiting their chance at the potentially lifesaving shot. But the state has gotten more than 3 million doses from the federal government, and officials are reporting spoilage of about one in 1,000 doses.
▪ The eviction and foreclosure moratorium enacted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that was due to expire on Jan. 31 has been extended through at least March 31 by President Joe Biden. The moratium is to reduce the possibility of COVID-19 spreading because of homelessness.
▪ New Publix COVID-19 vaccine appointments will become available after 6 a.m. Friday across more than 200 Publix pharmacies in Florida. To check for appointments, visit publix.com/covid-vaccine/florida.
▪ An emerging and more-contagious version of the COVID-19 virus is circulating in 19 Florida counties, spanning the Panhandle to South Florida, new data indicates. Miami-Dade and Broward counties had the highest number of known cases. It’s called B.1.1.7., or the U.K. variant, and the Florida Department of Health confirmed its first case on New Year’s Day.
▪ All the usual preparations for a Super Bowl are taking place at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. But this year’s game comes with a unique twist: it’s the first Super Bowl played with COVID-19 protocols in place. Some new precautions include giving everyone a KN95 mask and hand sanitizer.
▪ As the pandemic continues to worsen around the world, scientists are grappling to better understand spin-off versions of the COVID-19 virus — and one of the latest strains poses a particular threat to South Florida. The little-understood “P1” strain of the virus, known as the Brazilian variant, contains two mutations that has researchers worried: One that is thought to increase the infectiousness of the virus and one that could aid the virus in escaping a potential target’s immune system, which would have implications for the vaccines.
▪ When national pharmacy chains CVS and Walgreens weren’t vaccinating residents and staff of long-term care facilities in Florida fast enough, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a $24 million contract with the subsidiary of the Miami engineering and emergency management firm CDR Maguire to staff up and get the job done. But the favored vendor had no experience working in long-term care facilities, and the result has been a rush to vaccinate that has been rife with miscommunication and frustration, and even fraught with misinformation that discouraged some people from getting vaccinated, officials from long-term care facilities said.
Who can get COVID-19 vaccines in Florida and who cannot? Do you need proof of residency?
Florida is giving vaccines to healthcare workers, long-term care facility residents and staff, and people 65 and older. Hospitals can also choose to give the vaccine to people with health conditions that make them “at risk” of falling seriously ill with the disease.
Only Florida residents and snowbirds can get the vaccine but there is no county residency requirement in place. This means if you live in Miami-Dade, you can get the vaccine in Broward or vice versa. You will need to show proof of Florida residency.
For snowbirds or part-time residents, the proof needs to be in the form of two documents like a lease agreement and a utility bill no more than two months old, according to the Florida Division of Emergency Management.
Anyone else who lives in another state or country can no longer get the vaccine in Florida. Non-residents who have already received the vaccine in Florida will still be able to get the second dose.
The change was made to curb vaccine tourism, or people who travel from another state or country to get the vaccine in Miami or another part of the state.
Who should not get a COVID-19 vaccine: People who have had a severe allergic reaction to ingredients in the vaccine or had a severe reaction after a previous dose. Ingredients of the Pfizer-BioNTech and the Moderna vaccines can be found on FDA.gov.
How many people have received the COVID-19 vaccine in Florida?
According to the state’s Wednesday COVID-19 vaccine report, 1,290,157 people have received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Florida and 203,846 people have completed the series of two doses of either Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.
Of those who completed the two-dose vaccination, 30,127 were Miami-Dade residents, 21,872 were Broward residents, 11,823 were Palm Beach residents and 383 were Monroe residents.
What COVID-19 vaccines are available in Florida? How many doses do I need?
Florida has two vaccines available: Pfizer BioNTech and Moderna.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine requires two shots, three weeks apart, and can be given to people 16 and older. Moderna’s vaccine requires two shots, one month apart, and can be given to people 18 and older. Neither vaccine will give you COVID-19.
The two vaccines are not interchangeable, however, which means that if your first shot was the Pfizer vaccine, your second shot cannot be the Moderna vaccine, according to the CDC.
COVID-19 vaccination sites in South Florida?
Publix has vaccines available in select Florida counties. Miami-Dade and Broward, the counties hit hardest during the pandemic, are not among the locations. That might change in the future. Walgreens, CVS, Winn-Dixie, Walmart and other pharmacies will also eventually have vaccines in stock.
For now, here are your options in South Florida:
The county has a website, miamidade.gov/vaccine, where it posts updates on where seniors, and eventually the rest of the general public, will be able to find and schedule COVID-19 vaccination appointments.
The county schedules appointments through the website and a new hotline, 305-614-2014, for several vaccination sites including Zoo Miami and Tropical Park.
Here are other places that have vaccines:
▪ Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach is no longer booking appointments and has canceled all first-dose appointments for Jan. 23 and later because of supply constraints. Second-dose appointments are not affected. To check for updates, visit msmc.com/coronavirus-update/
▪ Jackson Health System, the county’s public hospital network, has launched an online portal for people 65 and older to schedule vaccine appointments. To check for available appointments, visit https://jhsmiami.org/comvac/.
▪ Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens is providing vaccinations by appointment to seniors and front-line healthcare workers. Appointments filled up quickly. Call 888-499-0840 or the TTY line at 888-256-8918.
▪ Marlins Park in Miami, a popular COVID-19 testing site, also has vaccines. For now, there is no municipal residency requirement, which means you do not need to live within the city limits to be vaccinated. Miami Mayor Francis Suarez wants to change that. For now, you just need to show proof of Florida residency. To schedule an appointment, call 888-499-0840. The number for the hearing impaired is 888-256-8918.
▪ Baptist Health, one of the county’s largest private hospitals, is no longer booking appointments and has canceled all first-dose appointments from Jan. 20 and beyond because of supply constraints. Second dose appointments are not affected. To check for updates, visit Baptisthealth.net/vaccine.
▪ Seniors 65 and older who seek care with Leon Medical Centers can call customer service at 305-642-5366 to schedule a free COVID-19 vaccination appointment. If you need transportation, let the operator know so they can also schedule a driver to pick you up. Appointments will be scheduled until Leon runs out of vaccines.
▪ Pasteur and Wellmax Medical Centers are hoping to offer COVID-19 vaccines soon to seniors, including non-members. Both clinics are still waiting to receive vaccines.
▪ Florida International University has applied to be a vaccination site. The university also received Moderna doses to vaccinate FIU faculty and staff 65 and older as well as FIU healthcare workers who have direct contact with patients.
▪ Miami-Dade County has begun contacting homebound seniors age 65 and older who live in county facilities or receive county services to offer vaccination appointments.
▪ Miami Beach has begun administering COVID-19 vaccines to some seniors living in affordable housing or who are confined to their homes.
▪ Broward Health, the hospital network, has filled all of its vaccination appointments through February. However, it is working to schedule appointments at Fort Lauderdale’s Inter Miami CF Stadium. More on that below:
▪ Fort Lauderdale’s Inter Miami CF Stadium is now a COVID-19 vaccination site. Seniors 65 and older, office staff of Broward Health-credentialed physicians and other healthcare providers and their office staff can request an appointment online at BrowardHealth.org and a Broward Health scheduler will then respond to finish the appointment booking.
▪ Memorial Healthcare System ran out of COVID-19 vaccines again. Once doses are available again, appointments can be made through the MyChart portal, https://mychart.mhs.net for current Memorial Healthcare patients. Others will have to call 954-276-4340.
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The appointment-only vaccine locations listed in the website above are:
The Memorial Regional Conference Center, 3501 Johnson St. in Hollywood, noon to 7:30 p.m. Mondays, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Tuesday through Friday.
Memorial Specialty Pharmacy, 9581 Premier Pkwy. in Miramar, 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
▪ The Florida Department of Health in Broward County has changed its scheduling process. Instead of requesting an appointment online, front-line healthcare workers and seniors 65 and older can now call 866-201-6313. The number for the hearing impaired is 833-476-1526.
Appointments are available at the numbers above for the following locations:
Tradewinds Park, 3600 W. Sample Rd., Coconut Creek
Vista View Park, 4001 SW 142nd Ave., Davie
Markham Park & Target Range, 16001 W. State Road 84 in Sunrise
Snyder Park, 3299 SW Fourth Ave, in Fort Lauderdale.
Central Broward Park and Broward County Stadium, 3700 NW 11th Pl. in Lauderhill.
Coral Square Mall in Coral Springs.
▪ All Cleveland Clinic Florida locations, including its Weston campus, have run out of vaccination appointments for now. Cleveland Clinic said it will resume scheduling appointments through its website for current patients once it gets more doses. To check for slots, visit https://my.clevelandclinic.org/landing/covid-19-vaccine/florida
Monroe County is expected to receive another 600 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in coming weeks, according to Monroe County’s top health official. The doses will be split between the Florida Department of Health in Monroe County and Publix.
The department blamed the state earlier this month for its “unanticipated lag” of vaccine deliveries, which put its plans to open a scheduling website or appointment hotline on hold.
So far, the doses the health department received prior to the delivery lag have been used to vaccinate healthcare workers and people 65 and older with special needs by appointment-only. People in long-term facilities and nursing homes in Monroe are also being vaccinated by CVS and Walgreens.
For seniors in the general population, it’s still a waiting game on when they’ll be able to schedule their vaccination appointment.
However, you can try your luck at the Publix stores in Islamorada and Key West. For availability, check publix.com/covid-vaccine/florida