Alachua County to vaccinate 1,000 at stadium event Friday

Ben Hill Griffin Stadium
Ben Hill Griffin Stadium

The Florida Department of Health (FDOH) in Alachua County is planning to vaccinate 1,000 people Friday at an event at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on the UF campus with the help of UF Health.

The free shots, given from the health department’s allotment of the COVID-19 vaccine, are by appointment only. The health department is in the process of notifying residents who signed up earlier at Alachua County’s website that they can schedule to receive their shots, according to a press release from UF Health.

“We have over 269,000 people in this county, so we are scaling up our efforts to support our response,” said Paul Meyers, the administrator for the FDOH in Alachua County, in the press release. “We have always planned to think bigger, and this is a great step toward community immunity.”

While the stadium site could accommodate thousands of people getting a vaccine in a day, the number of doses that Alachua County is getting from the state’s supply is limiting the number of people being vaccinated.

“When more vaccine becomes available, which it will, people will have more confidence if we can efficiently vaccinate people quickly and safely at scale,” said Dr. Michael Lauzardo, deputy director of the UF Emerging Pathogens Institute and a public health specialist in charge of the UF Health Screen, Test & Protect initiative. “We have to think of it in terms of big numbers, getting vaccine to the people in the community who need it most as soon as we have enough vaccine.”

Personnel from UF Health and the health department will be delivering first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at the Touchdown Terrace, which is on the north-end-zone side of the stadium. Anyone coming to the event should follow signs on University Avenue to designated parking areas.

Although Friday’s event is only open to people with appointments, officials encourage people eligible for the vaccine—including those 65 and older—to register for the vaccine on the health department website.

Anyone who is uncomfortable using the online form, or needs help in registering, can call the county’s COVID-19 hotline at 352-334-8810. It is open 8 a.m. to midnight every day.

The health department with the help of UF Health has also vaccinated residents in the last two weeks at a site set up at Mt. Moriah Missionary Baptist Church and at a drive-thru site at Hull Road.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with new information.

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