MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an executive order this week stating that those 65 and older will be next in line for the COVID-19, breaking with a Center for Disease Control panel’s advice of the next group being those 75 and older, as well as frontline essential workers. What is missing from this directive is a companion vaccine roll-out execution plan, leading to confusion and a piecemeal approach across South Florida.
Mount Sinai said it started vaccinating seniors 75 and older Thursday, but are waiting for next step instructions from state health officials who have gone radio silent.
“What is interesting about that population is they want to be vaccinated,” said Steven Sonenreich, president and CEO, Mount Sinai Medical Center. Mount Sinai Medical Center has received a limited supply of both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
- Mount Sinai will expand vaccination eligibility to individuals who are 75 years and older and community first responders.
- Individuals who fit this criteria can schedule an appointment by calling Mount Sinai between the hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m. and 1 p.m., Saturday and Sunday. The appointment line will be closed on Christmas and New Year’s Day.
- Call 305-674-2312.
- No walk-ins accepted.
- Patient must bring a government-issued ID (preferably a driver’s license) or passport to the appointment.
- Upon arrival, patients will be asked a series of qualifying questions.
Sonenreich said the hospital has already started vaccinating seniors 75 and older by appointment only. The doses are part of the hospital’s COVID-19 vaccine allocation also serving frontline healthcare workers.
“We want to try and deploy as much vaccine as possible. I think there are a number of other hospitals that will follow our lead in the coming days,” Sonenreich said.
Mount Sinai does appear to be an outlier. “We have an opportunity now as hospitals to bend the curve of this pandemic and it is my belief that we should do everything that we can do to distribute as much vaccine as possible,” Sonenreich said.
On Wednesday, DeSantis cautioned: “We don’t have enough vaccine to do everyone. Don’t rush to your local county hospital or health department right now,” he said.
According to Broward Health, that is exactly what people did. Seniors in the community showed up at the hospital to register, but just like we heard from Memorial Healthcare System, the initial dose allocations received are still being administered to frontline healthcare workers, not yet to members of the community.
At Jackson Health System, they began vaccinating long-term care patients Thursday and said that based on the governor’s new order “We will begin vaccinating existing Jackson patients, prioritizing those over age 75.” Expanding further than that they said depends on when more doses become available.
In Miami-Dade County, Fire Rescue Captain Jason Fernandez said they will begin vaccinating fire department personnel starting this weekend, then broadening out to county workers over the age of 65 starting next week.
“I feel very passionate about this — to have this vaccine distributed to all these populations as quickly as we can,” Sonenreich said.
With more than 4 million people over the age of 65 in Florida, there are more seniors than available doses in the state right now. There has been no indication from the state on how it plans to distribute vaccinations to that priority group.
Local 10 News reached out to state health officials several times over the past two days and no one has responded.