The rush is on for Village of Key Biscayne residents to get the COVID-19 vaccine, but with long-term care residents, older seniors and first responders receiving priority, and the number of vaccine doses limited, most seekers will have to wait patiently.
All available slots for vaccine shots at Jackson Hospital and other hospitals were filled within hours of being opened up Tuesday. Health officials are scrambling to coordinate with the state suppliers of the vaccine, and Gov. Ron DeSantis has promised additional assistance is coming.
The problem is that the supply of the vaccine is dynamic. Also, the vaccine must be stored at extreme sub-zero temperature only available at hospitals, health officials said. A newer version of the vaccine can be stored in a conventional freezer. When that is ready for distribution more doses will become available through pharmacies such as CVS or other sites.
“When vaccination sites are open to the general public, individuals can get vaccinated at any of the locations providing the vaccines in Miami-Dade County,” said Florida Department of Health spokeswoman Olga Connor. “The federal government has been working with these organizations in planning when the vaccine is readily available to be available.”
On Monday, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced plans to increase vaccinations, while reaffirming his commitment of putting Florida’s seniors first. The actions include: expanding access to vaccines by converting state-run COVID-19 testing sites into vaccine sites; deploying the vaccine into underserved communities, including at places of worship; and hiring 1,000 contract nurses to support vaccination distribution efforts.
Nearly 4.5-million people are 65 and older in Florida, according to the US Census data. So far, 77,472 people aged 65 and older in Florida have gotten the shots, the state Department of Health reported.
Overall, 260,655 people have been vaccinated, the department said. That includes frontline health care workers.
There are 9,442 adults living in Key Biscayne, 2,195 of whom are seniors, according to worldpopulationreview.com.
For many of the island’s seniors, securing transportation to the hospitals for the shots is the biggest challenge. Local leaders are working on this, including Melissa White, executive director of the Key Biscayne Community Foundation.
“There are a lot of bureaucracies involved, each trying to receive these vaccines and set up a process for distribution, to make sure it gets to the population where it’s needed. They are just trying to set up the right procedures and processes in order to make sure that the distribution is done correctly,’’ White said.
Providing transportation from the village to the hospitals is a plan being discussed by While, Mayor Mike Davey and other council members, Village Fire Chief Eric Lang, Village Police Chief -- and interim village manager -- Charles Press and others.
“Hopefully, we’re going to have a local option’’ to support seniors and other key residents with transportation to get vaccinated, White said.
The Florida Department of Health is the lead agency in the vaccination process, Lang said, adding that local communities are “not in control of distribution at this time.”
“We’re all trying to do everything we can to expedite the vaccine,” he said. “But we are making sure that our residents will have access.”
He can’t say when the vaccines will be widely available, but Lang said he’s hopeful that people’s anxiety will calm with time as institutions try to keep up with a flood of demand for the shots.
“Like a hurricane, it takes a little time to get things in order to organize the chaos.,” he said. “This is another component of COVID. The vaccines are out. It’s going to take a little while to get the distribution right.”
As for the local plans, “We’re all working together for a single goal: what’s the best solution for offering vaccines to residents who are interested in them. My belief is that, as retail outlets like CVS have the vaccines available, things will start to settle down,’’ Lang said.
Vaccination appointments can be made with Mount Sinai, Jackson Memorial, Cleveland Clinic, or University of Miami. Below is the health care systems’ contact information for you to learn more about scheduling an appointment, including the criteria you may need to meet first before scheduling your vaccination.
1. Jackson Memorial Hospital: has a new website portal, jhsmiami.org/comvac, for you to schedule a vaccination appointment. Seniors can request a vaccination appointment online and you will receive a call back with an appointment date and time. No proof of residency is required, which means you do not need to live in Miami-Dade to get the vaccine.
2. To schedule your vaccine appointment with Mount Sinai you will need to call 305-674-2312. Or you can visit their website for additional information. Click here.
3. The University of Miami is scheduling vaccine appointments for their patients, please log into your My UHealth Chart. Click here to access the website.
4. Cleveland Clinic is scheduling vaccine appointments for their patients at three facilities. You should call:
- Indian River Patients - (772) 410.0560
- Martin Health Patients - (772) 205.3884
- Weston Patients - (954) 659.5950
If you have any questions or need help with the info above, please call 305-361-2770 or email email@example.com.