ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Educators, school staff, law enforcement officers and firefighters of any age as well as those who are medically vulnerable can now get the COVID-19 vaccine at the Orange County Convention Center site after the mayor announced the new expanded eligibility on Monday.
Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said the convention center can perform up to 3,000 shots per day but recently there’s been less of a demand and the site has been operating under capacity. With the new guidelines, Demings hopes the site will get closer to meeting its daily goal.
“Any educator or support staff member regardless of age, including substitute teachers, bus drivers and day care workers with valid ID can get vaccinated at this site. Firefighters, our sworn law enforcement officers of all ages are eligible to get vaccinated here. Health care personnel with direct patient contact are eligible. Any person 65 years of age or older and who are long term care facility residents and their staff can get vaccinated, and some very good news the convention center site can now vaccinate any person who has is deemed medically vulnerable by a medical professional,” Demings said.
The update on educators was already announced Thursday. Previously, the medically vulnerable weren’t being accepted at the site and only first responders 50 and older were allowed.
Dr. Raul Pino from the Florida Department of Health in Orange County said it’s up to a patient’s doctor to determine whether he or she is medically vulnerable. Those who are under 65 and fall into that category must fill out this form and present it before they receive their vaccination.
Demings said appointments are still available for slots as early as Tuesday. They can be made by going to ocfl.net/vaccine but it’s unclear when the registration website will update to include the new eligible groups.
Orange County officials said the registration portal operated by CDR Maguire is being updated with the new eligibility.
“Please be patient as they update site,” officials said. “In the meantime, anyone eligible who cannot register and would be eligible under guidelines can bring your approved DOH signed form signed by your physician (for medically vulnerable) and/or any other needed identification to be eligible.”
Kent Donahue with the Florida Department of Health in Orange County said those upgrades are in the works.
“Right now they are working through that process of programing the system on the HealthPro website. Make sure you select ‘other’ if you’re most vulnerable and you get an appointment,” he said.
He added that there are plenty of appointments available.
“We are trying to get those appointments up, we have plenty of vaccines here at the convention center,” he said.
Pino said the new guidelines will likely help boost demand at the convention center and move the county closer to achieving herd immunity. As of the most recent numbers available, 58% of seniors and 11% of the overall population have received at least one shot.
Teachers and school staff of all ages have already been getting their shots at FEMA’s new location at Valencia College’s West Campus and the convention center.
Scott Howat, chief communications officer for Orange County Public Schools, said educators and other employees have seized the opportunity to obtain virus protection and he’s glad they now have more options.
“There’s a lot of excitement around being able to get vaccinated. We’ve sent out quite a bit of information just directing our employees on where they can go and really encouraging them to do it and it’s been very, very positive from our end,” Howatt said.
Demings said the expansion at the convention center should help alleviate some confusion about where to get a shot.
The mayor was also asked about college professors getting vaccinated after some University of Central Florida personnel said they were able to get a dose even though federal directives focus on K-12 employees as well as day care workers.
“That is the goal, any of the educators that have appropriate documentation is to make the vaccination available to them,” Demings said.
A news release from the county clarified that college professors are allowed to get vaccinated at the convention center.
Use the form below to sign up for the ClickOrlando.com 4pm Trending newsletter, sent every weekday.