ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Anyone over 16 years old could register for upcoming vaccine appointments at the Orange County Convention Center site starting Friday, days before the next age group becomes eligible in Florida for the coveted coronavirus shots.
The portal for vaccine appointments opened Friday at 9 a.m. at Ocfl.net/vaccine. Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said visitors to the site should see ages 16 and up on the drop-down menu as they register for the vaccine.
By 9:48 a.m. all 9,096 appointments for COVID-19 vaccines at the convention center for next week were booked.
A parent or guardian must register 16 and 17-year-olds for their vaccine appointments and will only be eligible for the Pfizer shots, according to the county. A parent or guardian will also need to accompany their teen to get the vaccine.
Orange County health officer Dr. Raul Pino, with the Florida Department of Health, said about 74% of Orange County seniors have been vaccinated. Now, the county is seeing a small increase in virus cases among the young population which Pino said can be attributed to a number of factors, including spring break and social events.
Pino said he hopes the new eligible age group will be equally as interested in getting the vaccine as Florida’s seniors.
“We hope so, because that would indicate the appetite for the vaccine in a younger segment of the population,” Pino said.
After Florida opens eligibility up to all adults and late teens Pino said the higher demand could last for about three weeks as sites work to vaccinate the new groups. It’s possible sites like the convention center may have to adapt to accommodate these individuals.
“Our hours of operation may have to be modified a little bit to get adapted to the new segment of the population,” Pino said. “Many of those individuals are actively in the workforce so we may have to do some adjustments to assess those needs.”
Neighboring Seminole County opened its next round of appointments for the Oviedo Mall site to the new age group on Thursday. Time slots quickly filled. The county said it will now be releasing new appointments closer to the appointment dates to mitigate the rate of no-shows.
“My concern is the rolling spring break we have in Florida and everyone comes and then a weekend of family activity and partying, that concerns us,” Pino said.
There also has been an increase in cases in Flagler County.
“Recently we have seen an 18% increase in cases per day here, so we have seen a surge and an uptick,” Flagler County Health Department Director Bob Snyder said.
There is also an increase in Seminole County.
“It’s roughly 15-20% for us as well, it’s pretty consistent with Flagler County,” Seminole County Emergency Manager Alan Harris said.