In Miami, Vaccine Appointments Now Open for High-Risk People 55 and Up

Vaccine appointments are now available for a younger cohort.
Vaccine appointments are now available for a younger cohort. Photo by National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases/Flickr
Since shipments of COVID-19 vaccines arrived in Miami in December, doses have been limited to first reponders, healthcare workers, and seniors older than 65.

But as of today, the pool of eligible vaccine recipients is expanding.

Jackson Health, Miami-Dade County's publicly funded hospital system, is accepting vaccine appointments for people 55 to 64 who are receiving medical care for about a dozen high-risk health conditions.

Those conditions include:
  • breast cancer
  • cardiomyopathy
  • congestive heart failure
  • chronic obstructive pulmonary heart disease (COPD)
  • coronary artery disease with bypass
  • Down syndrome
  • end-stage renal failure
  • leukemia
  • lung cancer
  • lymphoma
  • morbid obesity (body mass index above 40)
  • sickle cell disease
  • solid organ transplant recipient
To qualify for a vaccine, a person must provide a signed authorization from their doctor listing the patient's name, the condition for which they're being treated, the doctor's recommendation for a vaccine, and a signature.

Jackson does not announce far in advance when appointments will be available, partly over concerns that non-Florida residents will book the slots. The hospital system announces when appointments will be available on Twitter and Instagram a few minutes before the online portal opens.

When the online appointment portal opens today, patients will be asked whether they're 55 or older, whether they're being treated for any of the aforementioned conditions, and whether they have a doctor's note recommending them for a vaccine.

Jackson will not verify the documents.

"We've had discussions specifically with the state as to how to do this, and that's why, based on the state's direction, we're taking these doctor's notes for what they are," Jackson Health president and CEO Carlos Migoya said during a February 19 virtual press conference. "There is an attestation online by the patient that these are truthful documents they're showing to us."

But patients who show up without the proper documentation will be treated the same way as if they arrived without identification, Migoya said.

"We will be turning them away and be giving an opportunity for them to come back at another time," he explained.

Furthermore, doctor's notes issued via email won't be accepted. Notes must be written on a doctor's letterhead or a prescription pad. On the day of the appointment, patients are required to provide a hard copy of the note or a scanned copy bearing the physician's signature.
Photo courtesy of Jackson Health System
Vaccines will be available at the North Dade Health Center, the Jackson South Medical Center, and the Christine E. Lynn Rehabilitation Center. Appointments will be available online today, and vaccines will be administered beginning tomorrow, February 24.

To schedule an appointment, visit Jackson Health's vaccine website or Miami-Dade's vaccine website.

And for more vaccination sites across South Florida, see New Times' running list.
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Alexi C. Cardona is a former staff writer at Miami New Times.