DeSantis addresses COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan at JMH

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis visited Jackson Memorial Hospital on Monday to discuss his plan to better distribute the COVID-19 vaccine to seniors across South Florida.
DeSantis said it’s exciting to see that there are many people who are interested in receiving the vaccine, but the process has been frustrating, so he announced the state is making changes to address the issues facing potential patients.
As more seniors across South Florida roll up their sleeves for the COVID-19 vaccine, DeSantis is doubling down on who he thinks should get the shots first.
“In the state of Florida, our priority is our senior citizens,” he said.
The governor visited Miami as Jackson begins the next phase of the vaccination rollout.
Administrators said they’re reaching out to people 65 and older who are already in Jackson’s healthcare system, like Marlene Dennis and her husband Carlos.
“I feel at peace inside that I already have the first vaccine, and I’m looking forward to the second one,” said Marlene Dennis.
Starting at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, Jackson Health will have an online appointment system where anyone 65 years of age or older can sign up for their own vaccination.
Officials said 2,000 slots will be open every day, and the goal is to give 14,000 shots a week.
Memorial Healthcare System will also be extending COVID-19 vaccinations to seniors 65 and older. Those who have been a previous patient at a Memorial facility can schedule an appointment through the MyChart portal starting at 8 a.m. on Tuesday.
Seniors 65 and older who have not been a Memorial patient previously and want to get the Pfizer vaccine can call 954-276-4340 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Jackson Health CEO Carlos Migoya said they anticipate being able to eventually vaccinate 60,000 to 75,000 people a week.
“We feel, within two to three weeks, that we can gear this thing up to somewhere around the 60,000 to 75,000 patients a week. If we’re able to do that, we’d be able to vaccinate approximately 60% of the over-65 in Miami-Dade County, which happens to be a total of 465,000 people, sometime by the end of January, early week of February,” Migoya said.
DeSantis said the state is taking several steps to speed things up, like converting testing sites to administer vaccines seven days a week, working with churches to get the vaccines to high-risk communities, hiring more contract nurses and distributing doses to more long-term care facilities.
He also had a message for hospitals across the state regarding the COVID-19 vaccine: Use it or lose it.
“If you have hospitals like Jackson that are meeting or exceeding their targets, then we’re gonna send them more vaccines. If you have more hospitals that are sitting on it and not using it, then future distributions will be reduced accordingly,” DeSantis said.
It’s no secret there have been a few road bumps in the vaccine rollout, like long lines and crashing websites.
DeSantis went on the defense during his stop at Jackson.
“We distributed the vaccines to hospitals, and the hospitals said, ‘First come, first serve. If you show up, we’ll do it.’ And there’s a lot of demand for it, so people are gonna want to go ahead and get it,” he said, “so the state is not dictating the hospitals, we’re not dictating to Carlos Migoya how he runs his operations here. That would be a total disaster.”
On Tuesday morning, Markham Park in Sunrise joined Vista View Park and Tradewinds Park as a COVID-19 vaccine distribution site.
A line of vehicles could be seen lined up at the park as seniors 65 and older waited for their appointment.
“I feel very comfortable doing it,” said Neddie Lynn. “We have an appointment today, yes we do. It was a struggle but we were able to use the internet and make it through the internet.”
The Kings Point retirement community in Tamarac is set to become one of the first in South Florida to offer the COVID-19 vaccine to its residents on Tuesday morning.
Anyone with questions and concerns about the coronavirus can call FDOH’s 24-hour hotline at 1-866-779-6121.

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