Seniors sleep in their cars waiting for COVID-19 vaccine in Volusia County

First come, first served event held at Daytona Stadium

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Seniors in Volusia County started lining up more than 19 hours before the gates were scheduled to open Tuesday for day two of a first come, first served COVID-19 vaccination event.

Cars lined up outside Daytona Stadium before 2 p.m. Monday, well in advance of Tuesday’s state-operated event.

Daytona Beach city officials said to ensure their safety, crews allowed the first 1,000 people to enter Daytona Beach Stadium at 7 p.m. Monday. The site reached capacity by 7 a.m. Tuesday.

Seniors in Volusia County lined up about 20 hours early to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
Seniors in Volusia County lined up about 20 hours early to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

Thomas Frascina lives near Ponce Inlet and received his shot Tuesday, saying it was all to prepare for a visit with his grandkids next month.

“We got here at noon yesterday and so it’s been about 21 hours and it was worth every single hour,” he said.

City officials said they wanted to remove people from the roadway and help with the early traffic congestion on LPGA Boulevard and the surrounding roads. Restrooms are available inside the stadium.

Temperatures dropped into the 40s early Tuesday in the Daytona Beach area.

As of 11 p.m. on Monday, 700 people had entered Daytona Stadium.

“I’m here with books and food and a chair and just going to hang out,” said 67-year-old James Engelbrecht, who added that he’s tired of being isolated. “I just want the vaccine to sort of free up my life.”

Judy Marquette, 74, said she is going to camp out until she gets the vaccine.

“We are so afraid of getting sick because, at our ages, we may not recover,” she said.

Department of Health spokeswoman Patricia Boswell said they Volusia County is trying to put an infrastructure in place that would support an appointment system.

“We will wait to get our allocation for this week before we commit to our next site,” Boswell said.

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Authorities on Monday were forced to open the gates early and turn others away due to the demand for the coronavirus vaccine.

The Florida Department of Health is offering no-cost Moderna COVID-19 vaccines to people 65 years and older.

Patricia Boswell, of 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.

The vaccine distribution plan has the senior community eager to be first in line.

“We’re senior citizens, all we want to get is the vaccine,” said 67-year-old Fayna Ludz. “Please give us the vaccine.”

Lowell Croll, of New Smyrna Beach, said he hasn’t made a trip to visit his children in Massachusetts for two years.

“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.”

Kathy Faddis was among those who got the shot Monday. 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.”

Access to a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine is in high demand in Volusia County.
Access to a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine is in high demand in Volusia County.

About the Author:

Daniel started with WKMG-TV in 2000 and became the digital content manager in 2009. When he's not working on ClickOrlando.com, Daniel likes to head to the beach or find a sporting event nearby.