Orange County Convention Center vaccination site moving out in time for business to return

Conventions are making a fast return, industry leaders say

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – It was still busy inside the North Concourse at the Orange County Convention Center Friday afternoon as the health department in Orange County continues to vaccinate up to 4,000 people a day at the fixed site. However, by the end of May 26, the mass vaccination site at the convention center will close.

This comes after an announcement made by Dr. Raul Pino Thursday.

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“The original discussions were just going to the end of April,” Kent Donahue, spokesperson for the Department of Health in Orange County said. “We are moving to the next stage of the process, which we started planning in September to get as many shots as we could and move on.”

The next part of the strategy will be to still administer up to 4,000 shots a day but through mobile units into hard-to-reach neighborhoods.

Orange County Convention Center is offering its last first doses of the Pfizer vaccine on May 5, and 21 days later, will close on May 26, moving out of the North Concourse just in time for returning conventions and shows to move back in.

“We’ve been in constant communication with the Florida Department of Health and they really knew all along that June was going to be the time that business was going to be coming back,” Mark Tester, Executive Director of the Orange County Convention Center said.

As of Feb. 16, 2021, the OCCC had 53 rescheduled conventions with an estimated economic impact of $972 million and 73 convention cancellations with an estimated economic impact of $1.8 billion.

However, From Jan. through Dec. 2021, the Center has 103 projected events slated with 952,808 in estimated attendance for $1.85 billion in economic impact in return.

Up to 15 new shows are also coming in from other cities that hadn’t reopened their convention centers yet. However, Tester said now that cities like Chicago and Las Vegas have announced their reopening dates, shows are feeling more confident to return and competition to bring them to Orlando is heating up.

“We are getting an inquiry almost a day over the last month of events that said, ‘If you can get us the space in the hotels and at the convention center and we will book,’” Tester said.

That space now opening up with the mass vaccination center moving in June. Just in time for a ‘jammed packed’ schedule, Tester said.

“We have as much events in the second half of June, July through December as we had in any other year,” Tester said. “They are going to be smaller as the industry recovers, but we have a jammed packed calender.”

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