ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Orange County leaders are working to combat vaccine hesitancy and reporting a decreased demand for inoculations as they work to get more shots in arms.
Mayor Jerry Demings announced several mobile vaccination sites during a news conference Thursday that will be operating across the county.
“(Friday) shots will be administered at the Bravo supermarket on Oak Ridge Road, Mount Pleasant Missionary Baptist Church in West Orlando, and El Presidente supermarket in the Pine Hills area,” Demings said.
He also reminded residents that the Silver Star Park Gymnasium location will be open Friday for walk-up vaccinations.
Demings then announced the locations for new mobile vaccination sites opening up in the county next week:
- April 26-27 : The Meadow Woods Recreation Center’s Gymnasium
- April 28: Colonial High School, Jones High School and Evans High School
- April 29-30: The Goldenrod Recreation Center’s Gymnasium
All sites are offering walk-up vaccinations and taking appointments. Appointments will be accepted started Friday at 5 p.m., according to the county’s website.
The mayor also said that the mass vaccination site at the Orange County Convention Center still has plenty of appointments available to anyone 16 and older. Anyone who is 16 or 17 must be with a parent or guardian.
Dr. Raul Pino from the Florida Department of Health in Orange County blamed the open appointments at the OCCC on a decrease in demand, saying that the site is mostly seeing people getting second doses of the Pfizer vaccine recently, rather than new patients.
“We think that we have top off in the group of individuals that will come to the convention center, that have the vehicle and time and the resources to do that,” Pino said.
The doctor added that this could mean the county needs to move to a new strategy of having multiple, smaller vaccination sites throughout the county in order to reach people where they live.
The doctor also noted that while demand for the vaccine is going down, more people in younger age groups are seeing the biggest increases in hospitalizations.
“Twenty-five To 49, as I mentioned to you, is the one with the highest number of people getting hospitalized by age group,” Pino said. “Although young people do not have the poor outcomes that we experienced with older population. There is also risk associated with hospitalizations. So, that is to say that we want to prevent this from happening and the way to prevent this from happening, is from getting the youngest segment of the population, vaccinated.”
Pino said that the decrease in vaccine demand occurred at the same time the vaccine eligibility was opened to all Floridians 16 and older.
“There is a traumatic effect to epidemic like this — mental health, trauma — with these periods and these type of large events,” Pino said. “And for the community at large but especially for those who saw their peers dying from this — and that’s the oldest segment of the population. So, of course, they were at higher risk and they all rush to get vaccinated because they have a sense of urgency. That’s not the same for the younger population.”
According to Demings, 59.2% of people 40 and older in Orange County have received at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine, but only 34.3% of the County’s overall population has received at least one shot.