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4 things to know about FEMA’s mass vaccination site coming to Orlando

FEMA to open vaccination site at Valencia College on March 3

ORLANDO, Fla. – One of the nation’s first federally-run mass vaccination sites is set to open in Central Florida.

Last week, the Gov. Ron DeSantis announced FEMA vaccine sites will open up in Miami, Jacksonville, Tampa and Orlando at Valencia College - West Campus off Kirkman Road.

To learn more about the logistics of what the site will look like and how it will operate News 6 spoke to Orange County’s Director of Public Safety Danny Banks.

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Below are four takeaway to know before the site opens.

FEMA plans to vaccinate up to 3,000 people per day 7 days a week

According to a news release from the state, FEMA plans to vaccinate up 3,000 people per day at each of Florida’s four locations. The goal is to vaccinate 2,000 people per day at the fixed site and an additional 1,000 per day using two mobile units to go into communities that are hard to reach with less accessibility and high poverty level.

“Any additional vaccines we can get into our community is welcomed and it’s great,” Banks said. “12,000 per day in the state is 12,000 more people per day than we were doing yesterday and tomorrow.”

Other counties will benefit from Orlando site

According to Banks, two mobile units vaccinating 500 people per day will go into communities across four counties, Orange, Osceola, Polk and Highlands counties. Banks said each county must submit a list to the state of suggested neighborhoods FEMA should start with.

“Those mobile units will rotate what they are telling us every two to three days around the four counties,” Banks said. “In Orange County, we are looking at areas in largest of needs, those in certain parts of the community that hadn’t had as much access, the population there versus the population who has been vaccinated is much lower.”

The site will not be a drive-thru site

Unlike the Orange County Convention Center site or even the FEMA sites that opened in California last week, Banks said as of right now FEMA is saying the fixed site at Valencia’s College will not be a drive-thru site. Instead, he said the FEMA site will operate as a walk-up site.

“I don’t think it’s a drive thru,” Banks said. “I think it’s more along the lines of if you are a familiar of the AdventHealth site out towards the airport, their strategy will be more in line with that and not a drive-thru.”

How to register is still unclear

As of Monday, Banks said the federal, state and local officials were still trying to “iron out” the details on how people can register for a vaccine at the federal site beginning as early as next Wednesday, March 3 when it opens.

Currently, to register for a vaccine in Orange County, residents must register through the contracted vendor by the county CDR Health. However, the governor’s office said until details are released, residents can pre-register on the statewide site at myvaccine.fl.gov.

Banks believes we will have more clarity within days.

“I would think throughout the week we will have a lot more clarity in terms of the registration process will be and perhaps within the week we will have that portal open,” Banks said. “This is FEMA running the show and I am optimistic the portal will open and allow people to register this week.”


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