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Look inside the COVID-19 vaccine operation at Marlins Park

Mayor gives tip about second shot appointments at Hard Rock Stadium

The vaccination site at Miami's Marlins Park can handle about 1,000 patients each day, but there are some people not showing up for their appointments, Mayor Francis Suarez says.
The vaccination site at Miami's Marlins Park can handle about 1,000 patients each day, but there are some people not showing up for their appointments, Mayor Francis Suarez says.

MIAMI – The state of Florida is funding the COVID-19 vaccination site at Marlins Park, but it’s City of Miami firefighters who are running the day-to-day operations.

On Monday, they gave us an inside look at how it works, from the four lanes where senior citizens drive up to get the shot to the observation area they visit before leaving.

A total of 4,000 people have been vaccinated here since Wednesday. (Appointments are necessary and can be made by calling the state’s hotline at 1-888-499-0840. You must be 65 or older, or a frontline healthcare worker, to be eligible.)

Nancy Robertson and her family drove all the way from Naples to get the shot in Miami.

“We could not get a vaccine in Naples. We tried every day forever. So this is where we could book,” she said.

She was among the 900 people who waited in a long line Monday morning to get the coveted Pfizer vaccine at Marlins Park.

“The fact that we’re not getting to 1,000 is basically based on no shows,” Miami Mayor Francis Suarez said. “People who, believe it or not, make an appointment and not show up. Our hours of operation are 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., but in the first few days, we went until 9 p.m. just to make sure we could get all the kinks out.”

Suarez said that now that Joe Biden is president, more vaccines could be coming to South Florida.

“I’ve told my team we’ve got to be ready for triple or quadruple increase in case the federal government does that,” he said.

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit the black community the hardest, but so far black people make up only six percent of those who have gotten the vaccine in Miami-Dade county.

“The more vaccine we get, the more sites we can open,” Suarez said. “We want to open one in a predominantly African-American area because we’ve seen some of the reports that there is not enough vaccination happening.”

For Robertson, the vaccine is a step toward normalcy — and a step toward keeping her family safe, including her son who has cerebral palsy.

“I just want to be able to comfortably take a walk on the street,” she said. “Like, I don’t want big things. I just want little changes.”

On Monday, Gov. Ron DeSantis said of the 1.7 million vaccine doses Florida has received, about 1 million have gone toward vaccinating seniors. That accounts for 22% of all seniors in the state.

Second appointments at Hard Rock Stadium

People who have received their first dose at Marlins Park or at the state-run site at Hard Rock Stadium continue to express concerns about supply — some saying they have not heard back about scheduling their second shot.

The Florida Department of Health says if you got vaccinated at one of the state-run sites, you should be getting a call or email from the state about two weeks after your first dose so you can schedule your second dose.

A lot of people who were vaccinated two weeks ago at Hard Rock Stadium have been calling Local 10 saying they haven’t gotten that phone call or email.

The state now says that if you received a first dose the week of Jan. 4 and have not received a phone call to schedule a second dose appointment by Jan. 29, contact the Florida Division of Emergency Management here: https://www.floridadisaster.org/contact-us/

“Everybody who has gotten a first dose is obviously qualified to receive a second dose,” Suarez said. “They should be getting a call.”

DeSantis also addressed a question about second doses Monday, saying the doses will be there and supply is not an issue for those.

“We are marking the second doses,” he said. “We are sending them to the places where you got your first dose.”

About the Authors:

Madeleine Wright is a general assignment reporter for Local 10 News. She joined the team in March 2017.

Amy Viteri is an Emmy Award-winning journalist who joined Local 10 News in September 2015. She's currently an investigative reporter and enjoys uncovering issues facing South Florida communities. A native of the Washington, D.C., area, she's happy to be back in South Florida, where she earned a masters degree at the University of Miami.