US COVID-19 vaccine rollout moving slowly; elderly wait in long lines

Coronavirus Vaccine

DAVIE, Fla. (NewsNation Now) — The vaccine rollout across the country has been slower than predicted and now the administration of the shots is mirroring that pace. The federal government leaves it up to states to decide how to set up distribution and vaccination on the state level.

According to the CDC, more than 15 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been distributed nationwide but just about 4.5 million people have actually been vaccinated.

At a news conference in Florida Monday, Gov. Ron DeSantis watched as first responders got their COVID-19 vaccines. It was fast and efficient but it was a very different story at the public vaccination sites, like one in Davie, Florida, where the elderly waited hours for the shot.

“For people to wait three, and four, and five hours…that is not organized. That is not fair to the people, especially elderly people,” said Barbara Burk, a Broward County, Florida resident.

The people who were able to line up in Florida could be considered the lucky ones on Monday. Over the weekend the Florida Health Department’s website and phone lines in some areas crashed.

“We are not where we want to be. No doubt about that. But I think we can get there if we really accelerate, get some momentum going and see what happens as we get into the first couple of weeks of January,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said on ABC Sunday.

The vaccination administration problems stretch from coast to coast. In Cleveland, Ohio, where some weeks 150 police officers can’t work because of COVID-19, officers are frustrated waiting on their vaccines.

“We have to keep maintaining our job and come to work everyday,” Jeff Follmer with the Cleveland Police Patrolman’s Association said.

In Salt Lake City, Utah a mom and her daughter with Down Syndrome have been trying to get the vaccine for weeks.

“It’s very sad that we have all come this far and so many people like myself sit and wait in hopes we will have a chance,” Danielle Barrani said.

Back in Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis says the state is finalizing a plan to ramp up the vaccination process by converting COVID testing sites to vaccination sites. He says hospitals will also be held responsible if they don’t speed things up.

“Hospitals that do not do a good job of getting the vaccine out will have their allocations transferred to hospitals that are doing a good job of getting the vaccine out. We do not want the vaccine to just be idle in some hospital system,” DeSantis said.

Gov. DeSantis says 80% of the vaccine doses have gone to hospitals. Disability rights attorney Matthew Dietz is concerned about the most vulnerable population.

“My concern is that people with disabilities and the elderly are more susceptible to getting the coronavirus. And when they are out in public standing in lines, or in cars with someone else, they are more susceptible to getting the virus,” Dietz said.

Dietz would like the state to have an option so elderly and disabled people can receive the vaccine in their homes. Gov. DeSantis says the state will hire 1,000 additional nurses to assist with vaccine rollout. He also says they are identifying places of worship and other locations in underserved communities where the vaccine may be administrated.

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