New federally supported COVID-19 vaccine sites coming to Florida, including Orlando

Sites will open in next 2 weeks, according to White House COVID-19 senior advisor

New federally supported COVID-19 vaccine sites coming to Florida, including Orlando
New federally supported COVID-19 vaccine sites coming to Florida, including Orlando

ORLANDO, Fla. – In a few weeks, four new federally supported COVID-19 vaccination sites will open in Florida’s biggest metro areas, including Orlando.

The sites will open March 3, operate seven days per week from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and provide 2,000 shots per day.

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The White House COVID-19 Response Team announced the new vaccine sites called Community Vaccination Centers Friday during a news briefing.

These sites will act as “hubs” with additional supporting, smaller vaccination centers in nearby communities.

White House COVID-19 Senior Advisor Andy Slavitt said the federal vaccine sites were determined using a range of criteria, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Social Vulnerability Index created to identify and map communities most likely to need support during a national crisis.

“We are obviously looking for two things as we select these sites. The first is how can we get more people vaccinated more quickly. The second is how can we get more people vaccinated more equitably,” Slavitt said.

The index takes into consideration socioeconomic status, household composition, minority status, languages, housing type and transportation.

In a news release Friday, Gov. Ron DeSantis also said each site will have two smaller, mobile, satellite sites that will administer 500 doses per day in underserved areas, bringing the overall total for each site to 3,000 shots per day.

The locations are:

  • Tampa Greyhound Track, 755 E. Waters Ave. Tampa, FL 33604
  • Valencia College – West Campus, 1800 S. Kirkman Road Orlando, FL 32811
  • Gateway Mall, 5200 Norwood Ave Jacksonville, FL 32208
  • Miami Dade Community College (North Campus), 11380 NW 27th Ave. Miami, FL 33167

Valencia College, which will host one of the four vaccination sites, released a statement Friday following the announcement.

“At Valencia College, we are honored to support the federal and state efforts to vaccinate Central Floridians, particularly those in vulnerable communities,” the statement read.

According to a news release from the White House, Orange County was selected for the pilot program because it is one of nine counties in Florida with “significantly underserved/marginalized populations.” The vaccine hubs and smaller sites will serve communities of Highlands, Lockhart and Winter Garden, which rank highly on the CDC Social Vulnerability Index.

“In Orange County, there’s currently a 16.1% poverty rate, and more than half of the population are minorities. 10.9% of the population has a disability and 11.4% of the population is over 65 years old. 6% of the population has a limited English proficiency, and 6% of households do not have a vehicle,” according to the White House news release.

New federally supported COVID-19 vaccine sites coming to Florida, including Orlando
New federally supported COVID-19 vaccine sites coming to Florida, including Orlando

Slavitt said the White House expects to make more announcements in the next 10 days that will help reduce barriers people face to getting the coronavirus vaccine, including lack of transportation and making appointments for shots.

“Certainly, bringing mobile vans into the communities, bringing federally qualified health centers, which are ideally located into communities,” Slavitt said, adding another reason some may not be able to get vaccinated is because of the hours vaccine sites are currently open.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, U.S. Department of Defense, the Florida Department of Health, Florida Division of Emergency Management and the Florida National Guard have formed a partnership to operate the four sites.

“The federal government will be deploying teams immediately to work hand in hand with state and local jurisdictions to get these sites set up, and we expect them all to be up and running in the next two weeks,” Slavitt said.

Appointments can be made at once they become available. Only residents 65 and older and health care workers are eligible for inoculation at this time.

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About the Authors:

Emilee is a digital journalist for News 6 and, where she writes about space and Central Florida news. Emilee hosts the Edward R. Murrow Award-winning podcast Space Curious. Previously, she was a space writer and web editor for the Orlando Sentinel and a web producer at the Naples Daily News.