MIAMI (CBSMiami/CNN) – There was some vaccination frustration at a federally-funded vaccination site in Florida City over the weekend after dozens of people were vaccinated despite not being eligible.
According to FEMA spokesperson Marty Bahamonde, about 50 people were vaccinated at the Florida City vaccination site on Saturday, after telling staff they were health care workers.READ MORE: COVID-19 Vaccination Sites In South Florida
Staff asked them for proof of their status, but “they were unable to validate that they were health care workers,” Bahamonde said.
“So the staff, trusting them and taking their word for it instead of turning them away, they gave them the vaccine,” Bahamonde said. “Those people then went out and told their friends, ‘Hey, I went in and just said this and got a free vaccine.’ And more and more people started to come in and then the word got out that people were getting vaccine who didn’t meet the governor’s criteria.”
The news of the vaccinations at the Florida City site hit social media, which sent flocks of people to the site trying to get a vaccine Sunday.
State Sen. Annette Taddeo incorrectly tweeted that the federally-funded site would take all comers. She later deleted that tweet and corrected herself.
When the site was overwhelmed with people, police had to calm the crowd when the site again enforced the state’s eligibility rules, which are:
- Persons 65 years of age and older
- Anyone 18+ with at-risk conditions need only a doctors note, or the state’s medically vulnerable form can be filled out by a physician.
- Health care workers
- All Florida teachers and schools staff, including preschool and daycare workers, regardless of age
- Sworn law enforcement officers 50 years of age and older
- Firefighters 50 years of age and older
- Appointments are not required.
- This is a walk up site
Those eligible can pre-register for a vaccination appointment at a state run site at myvaccine.fl.gov.READ MORE: This Week Marks One Year Since WHO Declared Coronavirus Pandemic
This weekend’s mishap led FEMA to meet with staffers and tell them they have to make sure people are eligible.
“If they come into the center and don’t have the validation, we ask them to come back. Go home and get the validation and come back, so that we can verify that they are who they say they are,” Bahamonde said.
The site, run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, administers 500 doses per day.
Meantime, the larger FEMA-run location at Miami-Dade North Campus ran smoothly over the weekend. It is providing up to 3,000 doses a day.
It’s where Soraya Huguet, who is diabetic, went after being turned away from another site that wasn’t handling “medically necessary” cases.
“It was very frustrating. They told me it’s an ongoing problem,” she said of the other site.MORE NEWS: Temporary Federal Vaccination Site In Sweetwater To Stay Open A Few More Days
Over the weekend, the MDC North campus location provided a total of 3,160 Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, Florida City provided 321 total vaccines and Sweetwater, the second FEMA-run mobile site, provided 397.