ORLANDO, Fla. – As Florida wraps up the first month of its vaccination plans, local leaders are expressing the difficulties of meeting inoculation demands while the state continues to report more than 10,000 new cases of coronavirus.
With thousands of Floridians soon slated to get their second dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, local health officials are working to meet the high demand for both testing and vaccination.
On Monday, Osceola County announced it’s suspending registration for the COVID-19 vaccine, citing high local demand. Orange County made a similar announcement last week to refocus efforts to vaccinate the more than 73,000 people who have already signed up for an appointment in the coming weeks.
The struggle to efficiently vaccinate Florida’s 65 and older population comes as the state’s Division of Emergency Management reported a shipment of 250,000 doses of a vaccine will arrive throughout the week. To date, Florida has received more than 1.2 million doses, according to the DEM.
Though the state is far ahead in vaccine distribution, Florida continues to receive nationwide criticism for having seniors wait in long lines in the cold for a chance at a shot and inconsistencies in how to make appointments. With a cultural divide and lack of technological proficiency among Florida’s elderly population, frustration has brewed as gaining access to a vaccine has proven just as difficult as meeting the demand for it.
When Gov. Ron DeSantis was asked if the state has plans to bridge the gap, he pointed to health systems and departments to do what’s best to inoculate local communities, saying the state is coordinating partnerships and shipments.
He once again reiterated the state’s position of prioritizing people ages 65 and older, as well as health care workers and first responders over the weekend. According to the state’s vaccination report, more than half a million people have received the vaccine, with the governor adding the state is vaccinating approximately 40,000 people a day.
Though the governor touted the state’s successful efforts to distribute the shots, he once again admitted the most difficult part with sticking to the state’s strategy is the fact the demand for vaccines is outweighing the supply.
“If you can’t get in now, just hang in here because not only is there going to be more opportunities in the future [as] we get more vaccine in the short term we want to get that out, so you may be able to sign up very soon,” DeSantis said Sunday during a news conference in Bay County.
DeSantis said the state is working with churches to vaccinate the most vulnerable. He also hinted the pilot program with Publix that launched in Citrus, Hernando, and Marion counties will expand.
“I can tell you they’re doing a fantastic job. All the seniors I talked to are really thrilled with it,” DeSantis said. “We’ll be making another announcement this week about expanding that footprint.”
[READ YESTERDAY’S REPORT: Florida reports 12,000 new cases of COVID-19 as state continues to vaccinate seniors]
Below is a breakdown of Florida COVID-19 data reported by the state on Jan. 11:
The Florida Department of Health reported 11,640 new cases on Monday, bringing the state’s overall total to 1,488,586 cases since March.
Florida reported 163 new virus-related deaths Monday. This means at least 23,424 people have died in relation to the coronavirus across the state, including 353 non-residents who died in Florida.
As of Monday afternoon, there were currently 7,650 people with the virus hospitalized in Florida, according to the state Agency for Health Care Administration.
Since March, 65,796 people have been hospitalized in Florida after complications from the coronavirus. That number includes the 201 new patients who have been recently hospitalized due to the virus, according to the health department’s daily report.
The percent of positive results ranged from 8.95% to 23.37% over the past two weeks and was 10.6% Monday. This number is calculated by comparing the number of people who tested positive for the virus for the first time from the tests administered the day prior.
Health officials say the rate should remain between 5% and 10% to prove a community has a hold of the virus and is curbing infections.
The Florida Department of Health recently began releasing a daily report on COVID-19 vaccines administered throughout the state. As of Monday, 558,326 people have been vaccinated in Florida. The FDOH also reports that 38,409 people have received their second shot. Around 9,000 people are overdue for their second vaccination.
See COVID-19 data for the Central Florida region below:
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