Jeffery Burney was a man on a mission – to see his grandchildren in Arizona.
But first, he needed to get his COVID-19 vaccine. After his unsuccessful attempts to book a vaccine appointment at local drug and grocery stores, he was excited to learn Miami-Dade County had opened a site at the Overtown Community Center near his home.
His jubilation was short-lived. Because he was just three weeks shy of 65, the age required at the time, they turned him away.
“There was no one else there and they still wouldn’t help me,” Jeffery says. “To have my bubble burst like that, I felt like I didn’t even want it anymore.”
Thankfully, he changed his mind and got a vaccine a few days later at a federally-supported mass vaccination site set up by FEMA, at Miami-Dade College North Campus. Not only was he able to get a Johnson and Johnson one-time vaccine, but his 62-year-old friend who came with him, also got vaccinated. Jeffery vowed to tell all his friends and family members.
That week thousands of people, of all ages - front-line workers, those with underlying conditions at high risk of complications, residents worried about their health and fearful of exposing family members - all showed up and got their shots. For a few days, anyway, some waiting in their cars overnight to be first in line.
Then Florida, once again, clamped down on eligibility, limiting vaccines for those 65 and up only and requiring a special state form signed by a doctor for those with comorbidities. The impact? By week's end, traffic had winnowed to a trickle, no lines, and thousands of leftover vaccine shots statewide.