‘Not acceptable:’ After botched Daytona Beach event, officials promise smoother vaccine rollout

Seniors camped out for hours for chance to get COVID-19 vaccine

Seniors camp out overnight in Daytona Beach to get COVID-19 vaccine. (Image: Sky 6) (WKMG)

VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. – All Volusia County COVID-19 vaccine distribution events will be by appointment only following a botched Daytona Beach distribution event earlier this week, county leaders said Wednesday.

On Monday, 1,000 elderly residents camped out overnight in frigid temperatures at Daytona Stadium so they could receive their dose the next morning. The Daytona Beach event was serving seniors on a first-come, first-served basis.

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Moving forward, Volusia County Council Chair Jeff Brower was dismayed by the spectacle.

“Everybody in the county saw what happened in Daytona Beach. It’s not acceptable. And as far as I can control it and the people that I talk with in Volusia County, we won’t allow it to happen again,” Brower said.

Brower said the high demand for COVID-19 vaccines in Volusia County is a positive thing but unfortunately, it can’t be met due to the limited supply the county has received from the state.

Patricia Boswell, of the Florida Department of Health in Volusia County, echoed Brower during the new conference, saying the supply the county has received is inadequate.

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

“Do I think it’s adequate? By no means. And I think it was very well demonstrated that there is a very, very, very high demand, which is very exciting and great for us in terms of getting back to that normal life that we’re all trying to attain. But, you know, we’re certainly not getting adequate supplies at this point to meet even a fraction [of] the demand,” Boswell said.

A two-day vaccination event is scheduled for Thursday and Friday at the Dewey O. Boster Sports Complex in Deltona, but all appointment slots were filled within 15 minutes of being made available.

The county expects to vaccinate 1,000 people each day of that event.

“There’s thousands of people [who] want it. The amount of fear in the public is unprecedented. We get 2,000 vials of vaccine, we got 250,000 people that want it. So we will get it out as quickly as we get vaccine in. It’s not nearly enough to meet the demand yet but while we recognize there was frustration, we also know that 2000 individuals will be able to receive a vaccine This week, it’s a start,” Brower said.

As of Wednesday, that was the county’s only confirmed upcoming vaccine distribution event. County leaders said they don’t want to prematurely announce plans for vaccine events until they actually receive additional doses in order to prevent people from getting their hopes up.

“While we’re working with our partners to proactively identify vaccination sites throughout the county, events will not be announced until the Florida Department of Health in Volusia County has vaccines in hand. We want to ensure that we are able to follow through with our commitments to the community as soon as we know that we have vaccine available and not give people false hope with a false start,” Brower said.

Boswell said the number of vaccines the county gets from the state and how soon they’ll be received is not known far in advance.

“It’s very unpredictable. We have no idea because the first shipment didn’t compare to the second shipment in any way, so I can’t speak to what the next allocation will be,” Boswell said.

In the meantime, Brower is asking the community to be patient and trust that they will work to improve vaccine rollout moving forward.

“We’ve been assured that in time, the vaccine will be much more widely available for deployment, but in the meantime, we’re asking for your patience as we continue to distribute the vaccine as efficiently as possible,” Brower said.

Details about upcoming vaccine events can be found at www.volusia.org/coronavirus or by calling 866-345-0345.