COVID vaccine live updates: What you should know in South Florida on Thursday, Jan. 21

Michelle Marchante, Howard Cohen
·10 min read

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?

Anyone who wants to receive a vaccine against the novel coronavirus in Florida must prove they are a resident of the state, according to a new emergency public health declaration signed Thursday by Florida Surgeon General Scott Rivkees. The only cited exception to the new residency mandate are health care workers who are working directly with patients.

Days after Baptist Health, South Florida’s largest nonprofit hospital system, abruptly canceled COVID vaccine appointments for hundreds, Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach is taking a similar action. Due to restraints on the COVID-19 vaccine supply, all first-dose vaccinations booked for Jan. 23 and later are canceled. No new appointments will be taken. Second-dose appointments are not affected, as required by the vaccine’s emergency use authorization.

The Florida Department of Health in Broward County on Thursday 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.

Florida hospitals are once again nervously eyeing a number of factors that could increase spread and hospitalizations — this time, without any reinforcements. Worrying hospital leaders: the combination of post-holiday infection surges, seasonal bumps in patients from January to March even in non-COVID years, and the unpredictability of new coronavirus variants that are thought to be more infectious. COVID surges across the country also make it harder to hire new nurses.

Missed your shot at booking a COVID-19 vaccine appointment at Publix? Slots are expected to open again Friday for seniors 65 and older at publix.com/covid-vaccine/florida. Publix pharmacies in Miami-Dade and Broward counties still don’t carry the vaccines. However, Florida doesn’t have a statewide residency requirement, which means seniors can travel to Palm Beach, Monroe or another county to get the shot.

The Miami VA Healthcare System is offering COVID-19 vaccines through Friday for veterans 65 and over who are already patients. As with all vaccine sites so far, this is a while-supplies-last situation. And, most notably — no appointments necessary. Veterans 65 and older can just walk-in.

Miami-Dade County, the Florida Department of Health in Broward County and hospitals like Jackson Health System usually post updates on Twitter about vaccine availability minutes before slots become available on their online portals. You don’t have to monitor Twitter or be online 24/7 however. There are several online tools you can use to make your vaccine watch easier, including Twitter’s notification alerts.

Nurses prepare COVID-19 vaccine shots for Miami-Dade County residents with appointments at Tropical Park in Miami on Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021.
Nurses prepare COVID-19 vaccine shots for Miami-Dade County residents with appointments at Tropical Park in Miami on Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021.

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, including snowbirds. Florida does not plan to require teachers and students to get the vaccine, even if one meant for children becomes available by next school year.

Florida does not have a statewide residency requirement to get the COVID-19 vaccine. This means if you live in Miami-Dade, you can get the vaccine in Broward or vice versa.

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, 1,122,405 people have been vaccinated in Florida — with 111,188 people having completed the series of two doses of either Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.

Of those who completed the two dose vaccination, 17,784 were Miami-Dade residents, 14,777 were Broward residents and 272 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?

Long lines of cars wait as people with appointments get the COVID vaccine at Tropical Park test site on Saturday, Jan. 9, 2021. The Florida Highway Patrol and Miami-Dade Police urged drivers to avoid a portion of Bird Road because large crowds hoping to get the COVID-19 vaccine at the park led to traffic jams. Coronavirus numbers are surging in Miami-Dade County.
Long lines of cars wait as people with appointments get the COVID vaccine at Tropical Park test site on Saturday, Jan. 9, 2021. The Florida Highway Patrol and Miami-Dade Police urged drivers to avoid a portion of Bird Road because large crowds hoping to get the COVID-19 vaccine at the park led to traffic jams. Coronavirus numbers are surging in Miami-Dade County.

Publix has vaccines available in select Florida counties. South Florida, which has been hit hardest during the pandemic, is 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:

Miami-Dade County:

The county has a website, miamidade.gov/vaccine, where it plans to post 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 for vaccination sites including Zoo Miami, Tropical Park, at the Baptist hospital system; or facilities run by the state’s Department of Health. However, a planned pause in Florida’s vaccine deliveries could also cause Zoo Miami and Tropical Park to shut down sometime this week.

At the moment, here are the other places offering vaccines:

Miami VA Healthcare System is offering COVID-19 vaccines through Friday for veterans 65 and over who are already patients. As with all vaccine sites so far, this is a while-supplies-last situation. For appointments, call 305-575-7000 or contact your care team. Vets can also just walk-in.

If you receive care at Bruce W. Carter VA Medical Center; Flagler Street VA Clinic or Homestead VA Clinic, get your vaccine at the Bruce W. Carter VA Medical Center, 1201 NW 16th St. in Miami, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

If you receive care at the William “Bill” Kling VA Clinic; Hollywood VA Clinic; Pembroke Pines VA Clinic; or Deerfield VA Clinic, get vaccinated at the William “Bill” Kling VA Clinic, 9800 W. Commercial Blvd. in Sunrise, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach is booking appointments for people 75 and older and will eventually lower it to 65. Call 305-674-2312 to schedule an appointment, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday through Sunday.

Jackson Health System, the county’s public hospital network, has launched an online portal for people 65 and older to schedule vaccine appointments. All of its appointment slots are full, but the hospital plans to add more in the future. To check for available appointments, visit https://jhsmiami.org/comvac/. Proof of U.S. residency is required.

Antonio Castro receives the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine from Walgreens Pharmacy Intern Erika Blanco, 24, at The Palace Renaissance & Royale, an assisted living facility in Kendall, on Wednesday, January 13, 2021. Vaccines were available Wednesday for The Palace residents and staff.
Antonio Castro receives the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine from Walgreens Pharmacy Intern Erika Blanco, 24, at The Palace Renaissance & Royale, an assisted living facility in Kendall, on Wednesday, January 13, 2021. Vaccines were available Wednesday for The Palace residents and staff.

Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens is providing vaccinations by appointment to seniors and front-line healthcare workers. Appointments filled up quickly. By calling 888-499-0840 or the TTY line at 888-256-8918, you can sign up for an update on when vaccination slots will be open again.

Marlins Park in Miami, a popular COVID-19 testing site, also has vaccines. For now, there is no 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. To schedule an appointment, call 1-888-499-0840. The number for the hearing impaired is 1-888-256-8918.

Baptist Health, one of the county’s largest private hospitals, began offering COVID-19 vaccine appointments to seniors 65 and older and to those at risk of falling seriously ill with the disease. On Tuesday, all appointments for Jan. 20 and beyond were canceled because the hospital says it still has not received additional vaccines and does not know when it will receive more. Those who need to get their second dose at Baptist will still be able to do so. 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. Vaccinations began Wednesday.

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 County:

Broward Health, the hospital network, has all of its vaccination appointments full 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.

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 created a website to schedule COVID-19 vaccine appointments. All appointment slots are full. The health department says it plans to add additional appointment slots in the coming weeks at https://browardcovidvaccine.com/.

The appointment-only vaccine sites listed on the website above include:

Tradewinds Park, 3600 W. Sample Rd., Coconut Creek — open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday through Thursday.

Vista View Park, 4001 SW 142nd Ave., Davie — open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday through Thursday.

Markham Park & Target Range, 16001 W. State Road 84 in Sunrise — open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday

Holiday Park and War Memorial in Fort Lauderdale, a former COVID-19 testing site that reopened as a vaccine site.

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:

The Florida State Department of Health’s Amy Grimm vaccinates Monroe County Fire Rescue Chief Jim Callahan.
The Florida State Department of Health’s Amy Grimm vaccinates Monroe County Fire Rescue Chief Jim Callahan.

Blaming the state for an “unanticipated lag” in delivering additional COVID-19 vaccines to the Keys, the Florida Department of Health in Monroe County last week announced a delay in launching a website and call center for vaccine registration.

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. Both stores might have a limited amount of appointments available Friday at publix.com/covid-vaccine/florida