VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. – Access to a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine is in high demand in Volusia County.
The state-operated site at Daytona Stadium was scheduled to open its gates at 7 a.m. Monday on a first-come, first-served basis, but due to high demand -- and a long line of traffic -- the gates opened early.
Daytona Beach police tweeted that capacity was reached at 6:15 a.m.
“We have hit capacity for today’s #COVID19 vaccine distribution @DaytonaStadium. If you’re not in line and inside the stadium property already, please try again tomorrow,” the tweet said.
Daytona Beach city officials said since people have already started camping out for the vaccine event for Tuesday, to ensure their safety, crews will allow the first 1,000 people to enter Daytona Beach Stadium at 7 p.m. on Monday night.
City officials hope the change will remove people from the roadway and help with the early traffic congestion on LPGA Boulevard and the surrounding roads.
Restrooms will be available inside the stadium.
Temps are expected to drop into the 40s on Monday night in Daytona Beach.
CAPACITY REACHED: Officers are turning away drivers in Daytona Beach after they say at least 1,000 seniors have already lined up to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Vaccinations begin at 9 a.m. with another 1,000 doses set aside for tomorrow. pic.twitter.com/S9LSpqFnPg— Mark Lehman (@MarkLehman6) January 4, 2021
The drive-through vaccine distribution event is offering no-cost Moderna COVID-19 vaccines to people 65 years and older.
The vaccine distribution plan has the senior community near and far eager to be first in line.
“We’re senior citizens, all we want to get is the vaccine,” said 67-year-old Fayna Lodz. “Please give us the vaccine.”
Ludz added that she wants to see her daughter, travel, and live.
Lowell Croll, of New Smyrna Beach, said he hasn’t made a trip to visit his children in Massachusetts for two years. He said he hopes he gets the lifesaving serum.
“I’m 84 and I have some heart issues,” he said. “I’m good, but I don’t want to get (COVID-19). I don’t want to take a chance. We are willing to do whatever we have to.”
Florida Department of Health is taking that lead on the vaccine site, where they plan to administer 1,000 doses on Monday and another 1,000 on Tuesday.
Patricia Boswell from the Florida Department of Health in Volusia County asked residents to be patient as leaders work through the process.
“This is our first event. The demand is exceedingly high, the supply is exceedingly low,” she said.
“We’re full. This clinic is full at this point for anyone who’s thinking, ‘Should I come out tomorrow?’ I would say no because we’ve seen what happened today, it was people who’ve been here since Sunday,” Boswell said.
The state-run site has invited seniors and will provide a comprehensive traffic plan developed by the Daytona Beach Police Department.
“We’re having a good time living and we want to keep doing it,” said 75-year-old Joe Leatherbury. “We’ve got children, grandchildren.”
Leatherbury said he already came prepared.
“A friend of mine was on Facebook and he sent me a message and said they’re already going down there you better get down there,” he said. “So I said grab the banana pudding and let’s go.”
For some, it was worth the effort to be able to get the shot.
“We’re talking about a life-saving shot. I can wait a few hours to save my life, no problem,” 71-year-old James Daniel said after he was inoculated.
Kathy Faddis was also among those who got the shot. She said she hopes things run more efficiently in the future.
“As this progresses and they get a handle on how to do it, it will move even more smoothly,” she said. “For their first time, I think they’ve done great.”
In Brevard County, a different vaccine plan is taking shape. Officials said 3,500 appointments are completely booked through February. Don Walker, the Brevard County communications director, said appointments will resume when the next shipment of vaccines arrive.
“We will reopen the appointment process and people can start applying again to get an appointment to get their first round of vaccines,” Walker said.
In Lake County, many seniors were eager to roll up their sleeve, but those who showed up without an appointment were turned away.