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?
▪ Gov. Ron DeSantis announced on Tuesday that all 67 Publix pharmacies in Palm Beach County, along with seven in Martin County and two in Monroe County, will soon offer the COVID-19 vaccine. Seniors 65 and older can schedule an appointment Wednesday at publix.com/covid-vaccine/florida.
▪ Black Americans are receiving COVID-19 vaccinations at dramatically lower rates than white Americans in the first weeks of the chaotic rollout, according to a new Kaiser Health News analysis. Access issues and mistrust rooted in structural racism appear to be the major factors leaving Black healthcare workers behind in the quest to vaccinate the nation.
▪ Researchers at the University of Miami are shifting their labs to monitor for new strains of the evolving COVID-19 virus, hoping to better understand which mutated versions, or “variants,” are circulating in South Florida, and to what degree. Federal officials have warned that one of the new strains, B.1.1.7, also called the “U.K. variant” could quickly become the predominant strain in the country by March. Florida has 46 confirmed B.1.1.7 cases, the most in the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
▪ Will you be able to get a COVID-19 vaccine at Walt Disney World like thousands are doing at Southern California’s Disneyland Resort? Maybe. There’s talk.
▪ Jackson Health had COVID vaccine appointments opened Monday — for about half an hour. Like the previous times, slots filled up quickly. If you’re still trying to secure a slot at Jackson, check the hospital’s Twitter @JacksonHealth and its website Jacksonhealth.org periodically for appointment updates.
▪ President-elect Joe Biden’s incoming chief of staff, Ron Klain, described the new administration’s plans to fix what he called a “huge mess” of COVID-19 vaccine distribution. One of Biden’s goals: vaccinating 100 million Americans in his first 100 days in office. The inauguration is Wednesday. So far, slightly more than 12 million doses have been administered in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of those, more than 1.6 million people finished the two-dose vaccination series.
▪ Former Florida Department of Health whistle-blower Rebekah Jones was released on a $2,500 bond from Leon County jail following her court appearance, Jones’ attorney said Monday. She was arrested on a charge of unauthorized access of a computer system after state police accused her of breaking into a state messaging system and encouraging people to “speak up.”
▪ Some seniors 65 and older were able to get the COVID-19 vaccine at Holiday Park in Fort Lauderdale without an appointment last week, even though the county’s health department was still trying to catch up on its scheduled vaccinations. The confusion seems to have been caused by mixed signals from Broward County officials. The Florida Department of Health in Broward County says it will ensure the site is appointment-only again. To check for slots, visit browardcovidvaccine.com.
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 Monday COVID-19 vaccine report, 1,031,795 people have been vaccinated in Florida — with 93,258 people having completed the series of two doses of either Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.
Of those who completed the two dose vaccination, 15,107 were Miami-Dade residents, 12,609 were Broward residents and 245 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.
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COVID-19 vaccination sites in South Florida?
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:
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.
▪ Marlins Park in Miami, a popular COVID-19 testing site, is expected to offer vaccinations Wednesday. Miami Mayor Francis Suarez wants to make the site only for residents who live within the city limits. Information on how to schedule an appointment has not been released yet.
At the moment, here are the other places offering vaccines:
▪ 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/.
▪ 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.
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. Slots were full within two hours. The hospital expects to have additional appointments available in the future. To check for appointments, 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 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
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 Wednesday at the Publix stores in Islamorada and Key West. Both stores will be scheduling a limited amount of appointments Wednesday after 6 a.m. at publix.com/covid-vaccine/florida