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Vaccine shortage has South Florida leaders pleading for more shots

MIAMI – South Florida leaders say the infrastructure is there — they just need more shots so they can vaccinate more people against COVID-19 in the state’s coronavirus epicenter.

“We’re telling the governor we want three times or four times the amount of vaccine that we are getting,” Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said. “That’s what we are capable of distributing in Miami-Dade County.”

It was revealed Thursday that Miami-Dade would be receiving limited shots next week, including none for new patients at the two county-run distribution efforts at Tropical Park and Zoo Miami.

On Friday, Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber made the point that the county has accounted for about 20% of the state’s infections, deaths and hospitalizations — but Miami-Dade isn’t receiving that proportion of shots.

“We have endured about a fifth of the issues and suffering,” Gelber said. “We are not getting anywhere near that amount of vaccine for our residents.”

This week, the White House Coronavirus Task Force reported that “Florida is in full COVID-19 resurgence, which will drive significant fatalities for many weeks and stress the staffing of the hospital system.”

It pointed out that Miami-Dade and Broward, the state’s most populous counties, were seeing the largest increase in coronavirus cases.

Yet as more and more vaccine locations pop up throughout Florida, the limited supply of shots is spread thinner and thinner.

The newest Miami-Dade location was the one that opened Friday at Zoo Miami, and Marlins Park is expected to begin administering shots next week, much like the state-run facility at Hard Rock Stadium.

Zoo Miami’s hours of operation are from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday after also opening those hours Friday. There were 250 appointments on Friday, 500 appointments on Saturday and 500 appointments on Sunday. But all of the appointments that have come available via the county’s website have been spoken for in just minutes.

“Of course I’m worried,” City of Miami Mayor Francis Suarez said. “It’s not just that we don’t have enough, it’s that we’re not getting it fast enough.”

Broward County Mayor Steve Geller was also making a plea this week to increase vaccination capacity.

Local leaders stress, however, that people who have received the first vaccine shot will still get appointments for the needed second shot weeks later, and won’t be affected by the shortage.

“Nobody who has gotten the vaccine should be worried about getting the second dose,” Cava said. “Let’s be very, very clear. We’ve been assured that from the federal to the state to the local [levels].”

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