Monkeypox vaccine coming to Miami-Dade, but shots remain scarce in South Florida

Health officials in Miami-Dade County are accepting appointments for eligible individuals to receive the monkeypox vaccine, amid a worldwide outbreak of the virus and a shortage of vaccine doses for those who want them.

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – Health officials in Miami-Dade County are accepting appointments for eligible individuals to receive the monkeypox vaccine, amid a worldwide outbreak of the virus and a shortage of vaccine doses for those who want them.

South Florida has become one of the epicenters for the virus.

The Florida Department of Health in Miami-Dade announced Thursday afternoon that it’s taking appointments for the two-dose Jynneos vaccine.

Currently, appointments are only available for certain high-risk populations. These include:

  • Laboratory personnel and select health care personnel at high risk for monkeypox
  • Close contacts of monkeypox cases
  • Immunocompromised MSM (men who have sex with men) with HIV (<200 CD4 white blood cells per ml³)
  • Other MSM with a recent history of a sexually transmissible disease (STD)

Health officials are asking residents to schedule only one appointment. Clinic staff will schedule follow-up appointments for the second dose after patients receive their first shot.

Residents can book appointments on the Florida Health Miami-Dade website.

Vaccines are already available in Broward County. At the Wilton Manors Pride Center, Josh Darling was one of the lucky ones who was able to score an appointment.

In Broward, appointments at both the Pride Center and the historic Richardson Historic Park went quickly.

The supply does not seem to be keeping up with the demand, especially in communities hardest hit by the virus. Not wanting to share his name, one man told Local 10 he drove from Miami after finding a last-minute appointment online.

“There is a lot of frustration and there is a lot of fear trying to do something to be proactive,” said Orlando Gonzales, the executive director at Save, one of Florida’s longest-serving LGBTQ advocacy organizations.

The Broward Health Department reported having 3,000 monkeypox vaccines, adding the state will continue making requests to the federal government.

Local 10 News asked Florida’s health department if the request for shots had been made and for how many. As of Thursday afternoon, the state reports they have requested 14,000 additional monkeypox vaccines.

Broward County has quickly become the epicenter of monkeypox cases. In the last few days, Broward has seen an increase of 20 cases.

“If this is ground zero, then we should see the most number of vaccines being distributed here,” Gonzales said.

He added: “I think it’s important for the Governor to get on the horn to start calling the federal government and ordering vaccines and to be responsive.”

If the state doesn’t do it, local leaders need to step up and demand more vaccines, Gonzales said.

In Florida, vaccine distribution is done through the state’s health department.

But according to distribution documents from Washington, places like New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago are getting vaccine doses directly from the federal government.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services tells Local 10 News, “We are in the process of receiving additional doses from our supplier, which we will make available to states and jurisdictions soon. Approximately 780,000 doses (filled and finished) are currently at the supplier in Denmark. Those doses will be delivered to the Strategic National Stockpile in the coming weeks and can be deployed pending approval from the FDA.”

Local 10 also checked in with U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Florida, about the delayed arrival of vaccines.

“I am following up with state and federal public health officials to push for the acceleration, development, and distribution of vaccines, to increase testing, and raise awareness and education on this threat,” Wasserman Schultz said. “That includes seeking more federal vaccine funding and working with Broward’s health officials to get a clearer picture of South Florida’s needs, and where we can improve the federal response.”

About the Authors:

In January 2017, Hatzel Vela became the first local television journalist in the country to move to Cuba and cover the island from the inside. During his time living and working in Cuba, he covered some of the most significant stories in a post-Fidel Castro Cuba. 

Chris Gothner joined the Local 10 News team in 2022 as a Digital Journalist.