covid-19 vaccine

Florida City Vaccine Site Overrun After False Rumors Said All Could Come

Police had to calm the crowd Sunday when the site again enforced the state's eligibility rules

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A South Florida vaccination site had so few eligible takers Saturday that it started inoculating any adult who wanted a shot rather than let the vaccine on hand go to waste.

Word spread and on Sunday the Florida City site was overwhelmed, particularly after local state Sen. Annette Taddeo incorrectly tweeted that the federally run site would again take all comers. The Democrat, who was the party's lieutenant governor candidate in 2014, later deleted that tweet and corrected herself.

Police had to calm the crowd Sunday when the site again enforced the state's eligibility rules: 65 and older; frontline medical workers and police officers, teachers and firefighters over 50; and younger people with a physician's note saying they would be endangered if they caught the virus.

"I had friends that came on Saturday and he has a medical excuse and said 'there’s kids here like 18, 20'," said Michelle McDaniel, who was at the site Monday. "She says 'no just come down her'."

According to the Miami Herald, a Florida City police officer through a megaphone told 200 people waiting in line, “If you do not meet the criteria, you will not be vaccinated today." Vaccines must be refrigerated at extremely cold temperatures and used that day once they are removed.

The site, run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, administers 500 doses per day. It had enforced Gov. Ron DeSantis' rules Saturday morning, but when it became clear not enough eligible people would arrive, the workers invited anyone in for a shot.

"We had some individuals that came into the center and said they were healthcare workers, but they didn't have any proof that they were health care workers," said FEMA spokesperson Marty Bahamonde. "To err on the side of giving a vaccine, the staff there just gave them the vaccine."

That is not unusual — many drugstores, for example, will inject anyone in the store at closing time if they have leftover vaccines that would spoil otherwise.

Social media spread the news Saturday and people came from miles to the small town on the Florida peninsula's southern tip to get their shots.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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