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Younger patients without doctor’s notes get COVID-19 vaccines at Miami Dade College

Even without high-risk conditions they’re still getting shots at FEMA site

Cars turned away after MDC North Campus vaccination site reaches capacity
Cars turned away after MDC North Campus vaccination site reaches capacity

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – At the FEMA-supported, state-run COVID-19 vaccination site at Miami Dade College’s North Campus, the official line is that if you are under 65 with underlying health conditions, you need a doctor’s note to get a shot.

But several young adults we spoke with say they got a vaccine without that.

In fact, so many vaccinations were administered on Tuesday that cars were turned away from the site, which reached capacity.

“I think it is great for people to get vaccinated so we can return to life as before,” said Sebastian Davalos, 22.

Davalos said he doesn’t have an underlying health condition. He was asked if he had a doctor’s note but said he didn’t.

“Register yourself, you get the vaccine. It is as easy as that,” he said.

Local 10 News also spoke to Stephany Lopez, 29, and her husband David Marquez, 28

“They asked for our license and that’s it,” said Marquez, who acknowledged that he and his wife don’t have doctor’s notes or underlying health conditions.

The couple was at the vaccine site Tuesday with their daughter, who turns 15 months old Wednesday. They had heard from friends that those working the site weren’t checking doctor’s notes.

“We thought if they ask for the doctor’s note we will go back home, but we wanted to take the risk because we think it is worth it,” Lopez said. “We want [our daughter] to be able to see her grandparents.”

Some people waited for hours to secure a parking spot at the Miami Dade College vaccine site Tuesday but said the actual process from registration to dose administration took less than an hour. The site is able to do about 3,000 shots daily.

There was another long line of cars at the site Wednesday morning, but many people will likely leave disappointed if they don’t meet the criteria.

A representative from the site told Local 10 News on Wednesday that what happened Tuesday should not have happened and all staff members are trained to only vaccinate people who meet the eligibility criteria.

On Monday, the Jackson Health System separately announced that it would expand access to vaccines and not require documentation for people who affirm they have a high-risk condition.

Memorial Healthcare System and Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital have joined Jackson and Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in expanding vaccinations to patients 16 and 17 years old. At DiMaggio, they “must be a Florida resident or seasonal resident and must have completed a Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital physician office in-person or telehealth visit, or must have visited a JDCH or Memorial Healthcare System Emergency Department, 24/7 Clinic, urgent care centers or hospitals within the last 12 months for one of the qualifying high-risk medical conditions.” For more info, click here.

As for the FEMA-supported sites, Wednesday is the final day for the satellite sites in Florida City and Sweetwater before they move to new satellites in North Miami Beach and Miami Springs. The Miami Dade College North Campus site remains in place. For more information about the changes, click here.

On Saturday, the Florida City site was also vaccinating anyone who showed up who was 18 or over, with a doctor’s note or not, because demand for shots was low.

Infectious disease experts say the overall goal remains to get shots in arms to help the community move closer to a version of the old normal.

“As long as we move in this direction we can get into a position of going back to a pretty normal lifestyle,” said Dr. Aileen Marty of Florida International University.


About the Authors:

Christina returned to Local 10 in 2019 as a reporter after covering Hurricane Dorian for the station. She is an Edward R. Murrow Award-winning journalist and previously earned an Emmy Award while at WPLG for her investigative consumer protection segment "Call Christina."

Janine Stanwood joined Local 10 News in February 2004 as an assignment editor. She is now a general assignment reporter. Before moving to South Florida from her Washington home, Janine was the senior legislative correspondent for a United States senator on Capitol Hill.