Central Florida officials reflect on COVID-19 vaccine distribution heading into 2021

There is widespread agreement on challenges surrounding vaccine distribution at each county level

With the new year the vaccine rollout in Florida continues

ORLANDO, Fla. – As health officials across Central Florida close the book on 2020, there is widespread agreement on the challenges surrounding vaccine distribution at each county level.

Lake County spent the week working to juggle vaccine supply and its extraordinary demand, which resorted to a “by appointment only” basis.

“There was so many calls that the phone lines crashed,” said Aaron Kissler, health officer with the Florida Department of Health in Lake County.

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Phone lines crashed in Lake County due to the high volume of inquiries.

“It was difficult, but at one point we eventually had to cut it off,” Kissler said.

Officials in Seminole County said after their vaccine rollout, they reflected on issues they faced.

“We have learned a couple of things over the last few days. We have made some mistakes, but we have improved and we’ve fixed those and we are doing much better,” said Alan Harris, chief administrator with Seminole County Emergency Management.

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At one point, Orange County booked 30,000 appointments in a span of 24 hours.

“We made some improvements to the process. The first day went a little long with a long wait in lines,” said Kent Donahue, public information officer with Orange County Florida Department of Health.

As health departments anticipate another shipment of vaccines to arrive in the new year, they are asking for patience.

“We don’t know when our doses are coming in and we don’t know how many doses are there,” Harris said.

Despite the ups and downs, Kissler expressed the optimism.

“We do see a lot of promise in 2021,” he said.

In Lake County, vaccine immunizations will be available by appointment only at Clermont Arts and Recreation Center.

Walk-ups will not be accepted. Officials said walk-ups will be available sometime next week.