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Florida's Government Blames Lack Of COVID-19 Vaccine Supply On Heightened Demand

Ron DeSantis presser.jpg
Verónica Zaragovia
Gov. Ron DeSantis, Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez, left, and Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, right, attended a press conference at the Hard Rock Stadium on Jan. 6, 2020.

Vaccination appointments have filled up and many people in South Florida don't have a way to get one without direct connections to labs, hospital systems or universities.

Memorial Healthcare System's phone line has a message letting callers know that they don't have any more spots available. Broward Health has no updates on availabilities. The websites of Jackson Health System as well as the Florida Department of Health in Broward County both have messages pointing to their lack of doses. The Monroe County and Palm Beach County health departments have also urged patience and highlighted a lack of vaccines.

Gov. Ron DeSantis hosted a press conference Wednesday, at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, to announce that some selected people age 65 and older were already getting a COVID-19 vaccinations. The site will also continue to offer drive-through COVID-19 testing and will soon have vaccinations for people 65 and older, too.

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DeSantis said the people chosen for the test run included retired police officers and firefighters but didn't give any other information on who those people were or how they were chosen. Members of the National Guard were on site to help with the process.

Next week, he added, Florida will get roughly 250,000 doses split between the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines.

"I have enough people telling me they can do more," DeSantis said. "We want them to do more and so we’ve asked for more, and I think you’re gonna start to see really pop to scale very soon."

After the press conference, Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez told WLRN that the state is considering sites to vaccinate people quickly, where COVID-19 testing is already taking place, like Tropical Park and Marlins Park, both in Miami-Dade County.

"Places where they will get shots in arms," Nuñez said. "That is the nature of the beast, we want shots in arms as quickly as possible."

Nuñez admitted that the rollout hasn’t been smooth but said the biggest problem hasn't been the logistics.

"It’s more than an issue of whether things have gone wrong, whether websites have crashed whether phone lines have crashed, it’s more of an issue of supply for the amount of demand, and unfortunately we don’t have the supply to meet the demand," she said.

WLRN will continue to update vaccination appointment sites and information here.

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Verónica Zaragovia was born in Cali, Colombia, and grew up in South Florida. She’s been a lifelong WLRN listener and is proud to cover health care for the station. Verónica has a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master's degree in journalism. For many years, Veronica lived out of a suitcase (or two) in New York City, Tel Aviv, Hong Kong, Las Vegas, D.C., San Antonio and Austin, where she worked as the statehouse and health care reporter with NPR member station KUT.