Central Florida seniors targeted for vaccination as state reports 8,281 new COVID-19 cases

State-run vaccine pod slated for Kissimmee retirement community

Amazon, Lake County host vaccine event

ORLANDO, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis plans to bring a “vaccine pod” to Central Florida, targeting a retirement community in Polk County.

The governor made the announcement Wednesday during a media briefing in Hillsborough County. The pod is set to arrive at Solivita in Polk County on Thursday, though no other details were offered.

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The pods are part of the governor’s “seniors first” plan to target Florida’s 65 and older population for vaccination.

“We have the highest percentage of our seniors who have been vaccinated,” DeSantis said, comparing Florida’s vaccination program to other states. “We’re almost (at) 23%.”

The vaccine pod announcement comes as Central Florida continues to see high demand for the vaccine.

Publix reopened its online portal for people to make a vaccine appointment on Wednesday and all of those openings filled within less than two hours.

Currently, only health care personnel with direct patient contact, residents and staff at long-term care facilities and people 65 and older may make an appointment through Publix for a vaccination.

The Florida Department of Health-Lake County also opened a new vaccination clinic Wednesday in the parking lot of an Amazon distribution center in Groveland. The site is first-come, first-served and reached capacity within 40 minutes.

Health officials announced Wednesday that the center will be open Monday through Friday until further notice. Vaccinations begin at 8 a.m. each day.

Participants must be 65 and older and will have to present a valid Florida driver’s license or a Florida identification card for proof of residence.

To find out if you’re eligible for a vaccine in Florida, click here.

[READ YESTERDAY’S REPORT: Florida sees another 9,480 COVID-19 cases as president ups vaccine goal ]

Below is a breakdown of Florida COVID-19 data reported by the state on Jan. 27


The Florida Department of Health reported 8,281 new cases on Wednesday bringing the state’s overall total to 1,676,171 cases since the coronavirus pandemic began in March.


Florida reported 169 new virus-related deaths Wednesday, raising the death toll to 26,249. This number includes the 416 non-residents who died in Florida.


As of Wednesday afternoon, there were currently 6,679 people with the virus hospitalized in Florida, according to the state Agency for Health Care Administration.

Since March, 71,155 people have been hospitalized in Florida after complications from COVID-19. That number includes the 353 new patients who have been recently hospitalized due to the virus, according to the health department’s daily report released on Wednesday.

Positivity rate

The percent of positive results was 10.19% Tuesday out of 81,264 tests reported to the state.

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 Wednesday, 1,494,003 people have been vaccinated in Florida. The FDOH also reports that 203,846 people have received their second shot.

The state was originally reporting how many people were overdue for their second vaccination but has since removed that data point to align with the Centers for Disease Control guidelines.

[Register for the COVID-19 vaccine in Florida here]

See COVID-19 data for the Central Florida region below:

CountyCasesNew casesHospitalizationsNew hospitalizationsDeathsNew Deaths

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A previous version of this story said the vaccine pod was coming to Osceola County, which was stated by the governor. The pod is actually in Polk County.

About the Author:

Thomas Mates produces News 6 at 5:30 and the podcast Florida Foodie. Thomas is originally from Northeastern Pennsylvania and worked in Portland, Oregon before moving to Central Florida in August 2018. He graduated from Temple University with a degree in Journalism in 2010.