MIAMI BEACH, Florida – Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed an executive order this week stating that those 65 and older will be next in line for COVID-19, breaking the advice of a panel at the Centers for Disease Control that the next group will also be 75 years old as essential frontline workers. What is missing from this directive is a complementary vaccine implementation execution plan, leading to confusion and a fragmented approach across South Florida.
Mount Sinai said it started vaccinating elderly people aged 75 and over on Thursday, but are awaiting further instructions from state health officials, who have silenced the radio.
“What’s interesting about this population is that they want to be vaccinated,” said Steven Sonenreich, president and CEO of Mount Sinai Medical Center. Mount Sinai Medical Center received a limited supply of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
- Mount Sinai will expand eligibility for vaccination to individuals aged 75 and over and first responders in the community.
- Individuals who meet these criteria can schedule an appointment by calling Mount Sinai between 8 am and 5 pm, Monday through Friday, and 8 am and 1 pm, Saturday and Sunday. The consultation queue will be closed at Christmas and New Year.
- Call (305) 674-2312.
- No walk-ins accepted.
- The patient must bring a government-issued identification (preferably a driver’s license) or passport for consultation.
- Upon arrival, patients will answer a series of qualifying questions.
Sonenreich said the hospital has already started vaccinating elderly people aged 75 and over by appointment only. The doses are part of the hospital’s allocation of the hospital’s COVID-19 vaccine also serving frontline healthcare professionals.
“We want to try to implant as much vaccine as possible. I think there are a number of other hospitals that will follow our example in the next few days, ”said Sonenreich.
Mount Sinai seems to be an exception. “Now, as hospitals, we have the opportunity to double the curve of this pandemic and I believe that we must do everything in our power to distribute as many vaccines as possible,” said Sonenreich.
On Wednesday, DeSantis warned: “We don’t have enough vaccine for everyone. Don’t run to the hospital or the local health department now, ”he said.
According to Broward Health, this is exactly what people did. Seniors from the community came to the hospital to register, but, as we heard from the Memorial Healthcare System, initial dose allocations received are still being administered to frontline health professionals, not yet to community members.
At the Jackson Health System, they started vaccinating long-term care patients on Thursday and said that, based on the governor’s new order, “we will start vaccinating existing Jackson patients, prioritizing those over 75”. Expansion beyond what they said depends on when more doses are available.
In Miami-Dade County, Fire Department captain Jason Fernandez said that they will begin vaccinating fire department personnel starting this weekend, and then will extend to county employees over 65 years old from next week.
“I am very excited about this – having this vaccine distributed to all of these populations as quickly as possible,” said Sonenreich.
With more than 4 million people over the age of 65 in Florida, there are more seniors than the doses available in the state now. There was no indication from the state on how it plans to distribute vaccines to this priority group.
Local 10 News has reached state health officials several times in the past two days and no one has responded.
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