Pilot program underway to offer COVID-19 vaccines at Orlando International Airport

Doses meant for Central Florida residents, employees

(Francisco Seco, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – A new pilot program is underway to provide the COVID-19 vaccine to travelers arriving at the Orlando International Airport.

Dr. Raul Pino from the Florida Department of Health in Orange County said the experimental program is slated to run through June 18 and after that, a decision will be made on whether to keep it running.

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The site is located near the arriving flights, which Pino said was intentional since the doses are mostly meant for Central Florida residents and those who work at the airport.

“So the idea is to immunize the people that are coming into the county, especially if they are county residents. That’s the intent and that’s what we are studying,” Pino said.

He said the site administered about 60 shots during the first day of operations but that number is expected to increase.

It’s possible that tourists could get vaccinated at OIA as well but Pino doesn’t expect a huge demand for that, noting that most travelers have strict schedules to adhere to and may not have time to stop.

“So it’s not intended for travelers, although if we vaccinate a traveler, that’s absolutely fine. At this point, we have an excess of vaccines... but it’s also important to vaccinate those who are coming into an environment when we only are vaccinating about 54%. So that’s the intent, but it’s not intended for tourism, although it could happen,” Pino said.

He didn’t say which formula is being provided.

The latest numbers show Orange County has reported 144,035 COVID-19 cases since March 2020. The recovery rate remains around 98% and the 14-day rolling positivity rate is 4.1%.

Pino and Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said the most recent figures confirm that the region is doing well even though the fight isn’t over yet.

Both men said the need to get vaccinated is still critical and residents must remain aware of the risks the coronavirus poses.

“For me, the worry is that people will become complacent and those who have not gotten inoculated are not going to do so because they don’t think that is continues to be necessary. But I would urge those who have not gotten vaccinated, to get vaccinated,” Demings said.