ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Employees of any law enforcement, corrections and fire departments will be able to get the coronavirus vaccine at the Orange County Convention Center site beginning this week, Mayor Jerry Demings said Monday.
The Orange County mayor said this happened after he submitted a request to the Florida Department of Emergency Management on Friday asking to be able to vaccinate these workers. The state granted this request.
Under state vaccine requirements, only sworn officers or certified firefighters 50 years and older met the eligibility criteria. At OCFL.net/vaccine there is no age requirement listed now for K-12 teachers, child care workers or law enforcement and fire department employees.
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“So all of those who serve in law enforcement, corrections and fire departments can be vaccinated in our county,” Demings said during the county’s biweekly COVID-19 briefing. “Therefore the requirement for vaccination no longer has to be restricted to being a sworn law enforcement officer or certified firefighter or corrections officer it now entails anyone in those agencies from forensic staff to administrative team members.”
Orange County Fire Department Battalion Chief Scott Egan said there is a great appreciation to be able to protect these employees, saying “the machine won’t work without these individuals.”
The new vaccine eligibility includes dispatchers, administrators and anyone who works at a fire department.
“It’s not just those that are out, making the responses to the houses,” Egan said. “There’s a lot of supportive and back end, and that support now has a chance to be protected as well.”
County firefighters and paramedics are critical to the county’s plans to vaccinate at-risk communities who may not otherwise be able to drive or make it to a vaccine site.
“We will provide opportunity rather than them having to drive and be taken somewhere else to get the vaccine,” Demings said. “The teams of these paramedics are going to administer it right there in their home.”
The county is also now working to administer vaccines in people’s homes, making door-to-door visits to identify communities that may be underserved. Firefighters, paramedics and canvassers contracted by the county are working to identify vulnerable neighborhoods with people who want to get the shots.
Currently that effort is underway in unincorporated areas of the county and within the city of Orlando, according to Demings.
Dr. Raul Pino, Orange County health officer with the Florida Department of Health, said the county had 3,000 appointments for shots this week and there are still times available as of Monday evening.
The county’s largest vaccine site at the convention center vaccinated more than 20,000 people over the weekend.
Appointments can be made for vaccines at OCFL.net/vaccine.
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