Orange County using vaccination rates by ZIP code to plan vaccine sites, won’t release data to public

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Orange County is now pinpointing where pop-up vaccine sites should be placed, based on vaccination rates by ZIP code.

But after numerous requests dating back several weeks, leaders have said they aren’t willing to share that specific ZIP code data with the public.

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It’s been five days since Channel 9′s attorneys got involved, and the vaccination rates by ZIP code are still being kept private by the state and Orange County.

Mayor Jerry Demings said Orange County strategically chose Barber Park for its mobile vaccination unit this week based on the high need for vaccines in that area.

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“We are fortunate to use this opportunity to better serve our minority and underserved populations,” he said.

Channel 9 reporter Lauren Seabrook asked Demings if he would make the ZIP code information public. He said the county’s health services department is only allowed to “view” those rates and can’t release them to the public.

“In other words, we don’t keep the data. It’s not our data. It’s the department of health’s data that we access,” he said.

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Channel 9′s legal representation said the county’s conclusion that it does not have authority to provide the records is mistaken.

In an email to the county, Channel 9′s attorney said legal precedent shows if the county can “view” the information, it has “received” the record.

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Our attorney reminded the county it must comply with its constitutional and statutory obligation to produce the records, and that a refusal violates the Public Records Act.

Our attorneys have also continued to push the state for these records but have not heard back.

In other cases, when our attorneys have sued the state for similar records, they were turned over the very next day.

Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson, WFTV.com

Sarah Wilson joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2018 as a digital producer after working as an award-winning newspaper reporter for nearly a decade in various communities across Central Florida.