‘Such a competitive process’: County officials said they need help from the state to meet COVID-19 vaccine demand

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — An Orange County official said the county needs help from the state to open more COVID-19 vaccination sites to meet the demand of all of those looking to get vaccinated.

Orange County and Department of Health employees are working Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., vaccinating as many people over 65 as they possibly can; but they said it’s still not enough.

READ: Florida reports more than 19,500 new COVID-19 cases as state virus-related death toll tops 23,000

Nothing in the history of our country compares to the competition among neighbors to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

“This is like the hottest Elton John concert ticket in the world right now,” Public Safety Director Danny Banks said. “I mean, it’s such a competitive process.”

Banks said supporting the Department of Health in vaccinating 2,000 people a day at the Orange County Convention Center is one of the largest operations the county has ever undertaken.

READ: Here’s where to find the COVID-19 vaccine in your county

“In spite of that, we know that we’re not even scratching the surface for the opportunity to vaccinate the public,” Banks said.

As of now, Florida is only dispensing doses to hospital systems and county health departments; but Banks said they really need the state to allow vaccinations at more sites, the way they do with testing.

READ: Florida has nearly half the known U.S. cases of COVID-19 variant, CDC says

“We’re really hopeful for an expansion of bringing in more local pharmacies, local governments who have the ability as Orange County does to use our paramedics to start going out in the community and doing vaccination,” he said.

In Volusia County, Emergency Manager Jim Judge said the amount of vaccines coming in has been decreasing each week.

“In fact, we’re told we’ll probably have about 40,000 less doses coming to the state this coming week,” Judge said.

MAP: COVID-19 vaccine locations in Central Florida

Meanwhile many under age 65, especially those who are high-risk, are wondering when it’ll be their turn.

“It literally could be a month to two months before we begin to get a steady supply of vaccine coming into each of the counties, 67 counties,” Judge said.

As of Friday, all the sites in Orange County are booked through next week. So if you’re trying to get signed up, you’ll have to wait until more doses are sent in.

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.