MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Staff at the FEMA-funded, state-run vaccination site on Miami Dade College’s North Campus were back to enforcing the state’s eligibility guidelines on Wednesday. The move came after staff chose to ignore state rules the day before and allow people who did not meet the requirements to get a shot.
CBS4’s Brooke Shafer said Wednesday morning the staff at the registration tent held up a sheet of paper detailing who was eligible and asked those who were not to leave the line. Some decided to stick around hoping later in the day they would bend the rules.READ MORE: Retired Police Major Explains How Miami-Dade Officers Are Trained Not To Mix Up Handgun & Taser
“We are asking the FEMA guys to at least release the rules today because we are already here,” said Felipe Espanol who said he got in line around 4:30 a.m. but was then told he is not eligible to get the vaccine.
It is unclear who decided to allow people who were not eligible to get their vaccines on Tuesday. FEMA told CBS4 the state oversees the site, but state representatives said staff should be following Governor Ron Desantis’ executive order.
The move created chaos Wednesday morning. Traffic to get to the vaccination site on Northwest 27th Avenue was backed up for several blocks. A security guard on the campus told CBS4 the first driver in line arrived around 10 p.m. Tuesday.
“I drove from Orlando. We left Orlando around 2 a.m.,” said Natalia Goncalves, who was turned away from getting her vaccine on Wednesday. “A lot of frustration.”
On Wednesday morning, staff did call out people who were eligible and pulled them out of the line to get their shot.
“We got here at 5 a.m. and we had to wait until 8 for them to tell us that we can’t take the vaccine,” said Samantha Siwek who was turned away from getting the shot with her family.
Siwek, 24, said she knows people who got the vaccine at the FEMA-funded site even though they were not eligible. She and her family waited hours on Wednesday hoping the same would happen for them.
“We are scared of the virus, so we came here to get secure,” Siwek said.READ MORE: With J&J's Single-Shot Paused, Medical Expert Says People Shouldn’t ‘Try To Skimp At This Stage’ When It Comes To 2nd Dose Of Pfizer Or Moderna
On Tuesday night, the site was forced to shut down nearly two hours early due to high demand. Some nurses told CBS4 they were not told anything about supply, but were instructed to go home and told they were done for the day.
Staff at the site on Tuesday appeared to ignore state criteria on who is eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine and gave the shots to some people who only showed a driver’s license.
“I didn’t have to have a form, I just had to have my I.D. and show it to them that I’m a Florida resident,” said Torreya Burrows who is in his 40s and does not have an underlying health condition, but received the Johnson and Johnson vaccine on Tuesday.
During a press conference on Tuesday, Governor Ron DeSantis was asked about the seemingly loosened criteria at the site.
“If you’re under 50 years old and you don’t have a comorbidity, you’re at a very low risk, and I would just say that vaccine would probably be better off for elderly people,” he said.
The governor’s criteria on who can get the vaccine includes anyone 65 and older, law enforcement and firefighters 50 and older, all teachers and childcare workers, and people 18 and older with a medical condition who bring a doctor’s note or a signed Department of Health form.
Along with the federally-funded site at MDC’s North Campus, there are two smaller satellite sites in Sweetwater and in Florida City. Staff at the site in Florida City over the weekend also ditched state rules on Saturday, leading to confusion and long lines on Sunday with people who believed they too would be able to get the vaccine.
Beginning Thursday, March 11 and through March 17, the two satellite sites will move from Sweetwater and Florida City to two other locations at the Miami Springs Community Center and the Allen Park Community Center in North Miami Beach.MORE NEWS: 'Bed Tax' Change Backed In Florida House