FEMA Site Flips After Opening Up Vaccinations

Florida center operates in confusion over the weekend
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 7, 2021 12:00 PM CST
After Offering Shots to All, Site Restores Rules
Army medic Kristen Rogers fills syringes with the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine Wednesday in North Miami, one of four mass vaccination sites FEMA opened in Florida.   (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)

Business was slow at a vaccination site in Florida on Saturday, so the staff decided to change the rules. Instead of accepting only people who met state criteria, the FEMA-run site would give a shot to anyone 18 and older, as long as they brought a driver’s license or state ID. It turned out to be a one-day experiment. Word of the offer spread, and a crowd showed up at the Florida City Youth Center, the Miami Herald reports. The site had opened with a small line at noon; around 3pm, a police officer marked a spot in line and told people behind it that the 500 doses would run out before they could be served. The confusion carried over into Sunday.

A state legislator tweeted that the site was not limiting shots to those meeting Florida criteria, then corrected herself Sunday morning. The original rules were restored but not order. People who qualified under the state rules had been put on a list and told to come back Sunday, per the Herald, and a FEMA spokesman said the staff had been reminded to follow Florida's guidelines. But few of the 200 people lined up at one point Sunday seemed to qualify for the shots, and a police officer announced, "If you do not meet the criteria, you will not be vaccinated today." Staff members were trying to first identify potential recipients who'd been turned away the day before. (A couple of young women in Florida dressed as older women to try to be vaccinated.)

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