UF Health and the Florida Department of Health (FDOH) in Alachua County joined forces for a vaccination blitz at a Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Friday. FDOH in Alachua County provided its vaccine supplies to UF Health and launched the county’s largest coronavirus vaccination effort to date at the stadium’s Touchdown Terrace.
In total, UF Health vaccinated 1,100 area residents over 70 years old who had registered through the county health department website. As more vaccine becomes available, this location could vaccinate as many as 3,000 people per day, according to officials.
“Our biggest problem currently is having enough vaccines to guarantee that all patients can come back for their second dose of the vaccine,” said Dr. Michael Lauzardo, deputy director of UF Emerging Pathogens Institute.
Lauzardo said as many as 30,000 residents registered for a vaccine through the Alachua DOH website, but officials now have to coordinate those with people who enroll through the state’s registration website.
“In addition to making sure we have enough doses for the second shot, we also had to review the initial list for redundancy or people that had already gotten the vaccine at another source,” said Lauzardo, who is also director of UF Health Screen, Test, & Protect. “We have been able to reduce the list by several thousand by doing that.”
While the stadium provides the largest location for giving the vaccine, it is only one of several vaccination sites being used as part of this collaboration between UF Health and Alachua DOH. Other sites have included an additional UF campus location on Hull Road and at Mt. Moriah Baptist Church.
“We need to look at this as a war with multiple locations and coordinated efforts among all health providers so we can efficiently vaccinate people quickly and safely on a large scale,” Lauzardo said. “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. To effectively defeat the pandemic, we will need at least 70 percent of the population to be inoculated.”
Friday’s event was staffed by personnel from UF Health, including doctors and nurses administering vaccinations, while support staff and UF Health students took information from patients.
All 15 vaccination stations featured physically distanced seating. After receiving the shot, patients were monitored for 15 minutes to make sure there were no side effects.
UF Health, has already vaccinated more than 33,000 people in Gainesville, Jacksonville and central Florida. All vaccinations are given by appointment to people who registered at the Alachua DOH website (or called 352-334-8810), and officials are working down the list by age. Currently they are vaccinating residents that are 75 to 79 years of age and will work down to age 65.
Although officials plan to repeat the large event weekly, they cannot set a schedule until they know how much vaccine supply is available.