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Elderly residents who waited overnight for Covid vaccine are turned away as Florida centre hits capacity

The Florida Department of Health announced residents 65 years or older could receive the vaccine for free starting on Monday

Danielle Zoellner
New York
Monday 04 January 2021 20:42 GMT
Kamala Harris receives her first dose of the coronavirus vaccine

Distribution has stalled in places across the United States due to the limited number of coronavirus doses currently available, and it caused one Florida vaccine centre to close its doors once it reached capacity.

On Monday, a vaccination centre at Daytona Stadium, in Daytona Beach, Florida, reached capacity for distributing the Moderna vaccine.

It was announced that the centre would be open Monday, 4 July, and Tuesday, 5 July, on a first come, first serve basis to administer the coronavirus vaccine to those who qualified. About 2,000 doses were available.

This announcement encouraged Florida residents who were 65 years and older to line up for miles in their cars outside the stadium in hopes they could receive the jab. Hundreds of these vehicles camped out overnight so they could get one of the limited doses available.

The stadium reached capacity by Monday morning and was forced to close its gates, Fox 13 reports.

Residents were encouraged to try the centre again on Tuesday, but Daytona Beach police asked that no one waits overnight to receive the vaccine.

"We understand that there is [a] very high demand for this vaccine and that some people are considering camping out the night before or showing up hours in advance to make sure they or their loved ones get the shot first,” the police department wrote in a statement.

"We do not encourage you to do that because it is a potential safety hazard to everyone involved,” it added.

The Florida Department of Health announced it would start vaccinating anyone ages 65 and older for free starting on Monday in an effort to target those who are most vulnerable to contract and experience severe symptoms from Covid-19.

Dayton Beach was not the only place in Florida experiencing difficulties delivering these free vaccines to residents.

Brevard County encouraged residents to make appointments online to receive their Covid-19 vaccine, but the website has experienced long stretches of being inaccessible. The website was back up on Monday at 1am local time, according to Local 10, but by then all the appointments were booked.

“The Florida Department of Health in Broward County has provided 26,465 COVID-19 vaccination appointments to individuals ages 65 and over. All appointments have been filled at this time. Please check back to this website often as more sites and appointments will be added over the coming days and weeks," the website reads. 

Brevard County, which has about 600,000 residents, has only vaccinated just under 6,000 people, Florida Today reports. The county already distributed its vaccine doses last week and was waiting on more from the Florida Department of Health before it could distribute more.

But other parts of the state were having trouble distributing their vaccine doses fast enough, Governor Ron DeSantis said on Monday.

The governor issued a warning against hospitals that were holding onto their doses longer than anticipated.

“Hospitals that do not do a good job at getting a vaccine out, their allotment will be transferred to hospitals that are,” Mr DeSantis said, adding that he wanted to see “healthy competition” between hospitals to get doses in people’s arms.

New York state was having a similar issue in hospitals holding onto coronavirus vaccine doses longer than anticipated. In response to the problem, Governor Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order that said hospitals would face up to a $100,000 fine if they didn’t distribute their vaccine doses within seven days of receiving them.

These hospital systems could also be disqualified from receiving future vaccine doses, he said.

More than 4.5 million Americans have received the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine as of Monday morning, according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) vaccine tracker. In total, more than 15 million doses have been distributed by the federal government to states so far. 

Experts initially anticipated 20 million Americans would receive the vaccine by the end of 2020, but the country fell short of that prediction.

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