WESTVIEW, Fla. – Informal lapses on state eligibility requirements at the temporary COVID-19 vaccination site in Miami Dade College North Campus motivated some to show up on Wednesday with unrealistic expectations.
Many said they drove to Westview from Broward County. Mike Jachles, the chair of the Florida Association of Public Information Officers, described a chaotic scene.
“What we are discouraging strongly is people driving from other areas, other counties,” Jachles said. ”They are parking cars, blocking businesses, blocking private homes ... trying to jump the line.”
There were flashing signs listing Gov. Ron DeSantis’ eligibility requirements outside of the white tents at 11380 NW 27th Ave. Workers were more strict and quick to turn people away.
Jacmin Homez and Felipe Espanol said that after waiting for hours they learned that they were not eligible for the vaccine at the site, which is state-run and supported by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
“We are asking the FEMA guy that at least release the rules today because we are already here,” Espanol said.
Jennifer Taylor said she had a doctor’s note authorizing her to get the vaccine, so she stood in line with others who did not meet the state’s eligibility.
“They pulled me out of line because I had a letter. They let me go ahead,” Taylor said.
Other sites in Miami-Dade were much quieter on Wednesday afternoon. In Overtown, a walk-up vaccination site at 1551 NW 1st Ave. didn’t have a line.
As of Wednesday, DeSantis’s eligibility list includes health care personnel, anyone who is 65 or older, long-term care facility workers, and school employees. The list also includes firefighters and police officers who are age 50 or older.
People who are younger than 65 and who are deemed medically vulnerable by a physician need to have a doctor’s note. DeSantis expanded eligibility to people who are age 60 and older starting on Monday.
“We will lower the age to 55 in due time,” DeSantis told reporters on Wednesday in Sumterville.