65,000 COVID-19 vaccine appointments on hold in Sumter County

Demand has outpaced supply

SUMTER COUNTY, Fla. – The demand for a COVID-19 vaccine has outpaced supply at a mass vaccination site in Sumter County less than a week after it opened.

On Jan. 12, Terence Ramator, Director of Global Medical Response said the vaccination site began administering vaccines to people 65 and older.

“We pushed out 4,000 vaccinations from Tuesday to Saturday,” Ramator said.

The limited supply of doses is what Ramator said forced the emergency medical service to temporarily suspend its operation after the site ran out of enough doses to remain open.

GMR said they cannot operate their site with less than 800 doses on hand.

“Any day now. We are waiting for what that next allotment is going to be from the state, once that is, we’ll be ready to go within 24 to 36 hours,” Ramator said.

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The federal government authorizes the dose. GMR said it is virtually impossible to provide details on when people can expect to get shots.

“We’re not in a position where we are pointing fingers at anybody, it’s we wait patiently and when our numbers go up, we will be up and running,” he said.

Rich Pelkowski was among some of the seniors in the Villages who said information about access to shots has been hard to come by after he said he and his wife registered for a vaccine.

“Five days later we got an email from them saying due to unforeseen circumstances surrounding the national shortage of doses they were temporarily suspending their operation,” Pelkowski said.

With more than 65,000 confirmed appointments GMR said supply isn’t remotely close to meeting the demand. Seniors who managed to get appointments were notified their appointments were placed on hold.

Despite the roadblock, GMR said they are ready to provide protection against the virus as soon as they receive a large shipment.

“We’re here, we’re here for the long term and we have not shut down it’s just temporarily suspended,” Ramator said.

Seniors who have already received their first shot have been placed on a priority list and will be contacted via email about their second dose.

People who registered to schedule an appointment will also be contacted when operations at the mass vaccination site resume.

About the Author:

Nicky Zizaza is an Emmy-nominated reporter who joined the News 6 nightside team in December 2018. She is originally from Rwanda and she started her journalism career in the nation's capital.