Update, January 20: More vaccination sites have opened in Miami-Dade. A list of locations is below.
When the first COVID-19 test sites opened in March, Miami-Dade residents waited on the phone for hours to make appointments. Then they waited in line at drive-thru testing sites, only to be turned away when the sites' very limited capacities had been reached. And because of scarce supplies, only those who met strict requirements could be tested.
Ten months later, with more than 310,000 confirmed cases in Miami-Dade and 4,200 deaths to date, the first COVID vaccination sites are opening. But the planning and infrastructure required to vaccinate thousands of vulnerable people is lacking — the demand is far outpacing the supply, and history is repeating itself. People are waiting on the phone for hours to make appointments. They're being turned away from vaccination sites. And because of the limited number of doses, only those who meet strict requirements can be inoculated for now.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has directed providers to only give the vaccine to residents and staff of longterm-care facilities, healthcare workers with direct patient contact, and people 65 and older. The governor has placed the onus on hospitals, local healthcare providers, and county health departments to lead vaccination efforts. But the vaccine rollout has proven messy and frustrating for those trying to help vaccine-eligible loved ones. Elected officials and hospital administrators ask people to be patient.
Both of the vaccines available in Florida, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and the Moderna vaccine, require two doses. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the vaccines are not interchangeable, meaning both doses must be from the same manufacturer.
According to the CDC, the vaccine is safe for people who had a prior COVID-19 infection. Anyone with a current COVID-19 infection should wait until they have recovered to be vaccinated.
Here's a list of sites administering the vaccine to people 65 and older in South Florida. Appointments are largely booked, but slots will be added as more supplies become available.
Baptist Health Florida
Baptist Health South Florida is offering COVID-19 vaccines to people 65 years and older and to people with conditions that put them at high risk of developing severe illness from the virus. The appointment slots quickly ran out when Baptist's vaccination website launched on Friday, January 8, but keep checking for more appointments as supplies become available. Appointments can be scheduled online.
Jackson Health System
Miami-Dade's public hospital network is administering vaccines to seniors at three sites: North Dade Health Center, which serves Miami Gardens and Opa-locka; the Christine E. Lynn Rehabilitation Center in the City of Miami; and Jackson South Medical Center in Kendall.
This week, Jackson launched an online portal for people aged 65 and older to schedule a vaccine appointment, but the site went online earlier than anticipated and slots for this week filled up within a couple of hours. Visit the appointments page routinely for updates and availability.
Jackson CEO Carlos Migoya says the hospital plans to vaccinate 2,000 patients a day, seven days a week to start. Migoya says that as vaccinations ramp up, he hopes all seniors who want the vaccine will be inoculated by the end of January or early February.
Florida Department of Health in Miami-Dade County
The Florida Department of Health in Miami-Dade County is opening a limited number of vaccine appointments for people 65 years and older beginning Friday, January 8 at 4 p.m. The appointments will be available through a scheduling tool on Miami-Dade County's vaccination webpage. Webpages in Spanish and Creole are also available.
Hard Rock Stadium
Registration is open for drive-thru COVID-19 vaccines at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens. There are currently 1,000 appointments available per day for people 65 years and older. To register, call 1-888-499-0840. Those who are hard of hearing can call 1-888-256-8918. For more information, visit miamidade.gov/vaccine.
Homebound seniors in county facilities
Homebound people 65 years and older who live in county facilities or receive county services are eligible to be vaccinated. County staff members are reaching out to homebound people directly to schedule vaccinations.
A drive-thru vaccination site has been set up for people 65 years and older. To make an appointment, call 1-888-499-0840. Walk-in patients will not be accepted.
Miami-Dade County will open a limited number of vaccine appointments for people 65 years and older beginning today, January 7, at 2 p.m. Visit miamidade.gov/vaccine to schedule an appointment.
According to a notice on the county's vaccine webpage, the slots are expected to fill up quickly, but more appointments will be added as additional vaccines become available.
Mount Sinai Medical Center
The Miami Beach hospital is providing vaccines to people 75 and older. To schedule an appointment, call 305-674-2312 on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on weekends from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Walk-ins aren't accepted. For updates, see the hospital's website.
President and CEO Steve Sonenreich says vaccinations will be expanded in the coming weeks to Mount Sinai's emergency room locations in Aventura and Hialeah.
Memorial Healthcare is offering COVID-19 vaccines to people who are 65 and older by appointment only. Current patients can schedule an appointment through the MyChart portal. New patients are asked to call 954-276-4340.
Florida Department of Health in Broward County
The Broward office of the Florida Department of Health opened five vaccination sites, all of which require an appointment. The department is vaccinating people 65 and older.
At this time, all appointment slots are booked, but check the department's website regularly for updates.
Broward Health is administering vaccines to people 65 and older but shut down its appointment hotline because of overwhelming demand. For updates, check its website.
Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.