ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - Orange County Fire Rescue (OCFR) has started going into senior living communities and administering the COVID vaccine to residents 65-years-old and older.
OCFR Battalion Chief Scott Egan said since the program started last week, firefighters have visited five senior communities and vaccinated more than 500 people so far. He said they plan to go to seven other locations over the next couple weeks and are forecasted to do another 2,000 vaccinations. Covenant on the Lakes and Crescent Club Apartments confirmed to FOX 35 News firefighters recently visited their communities.
Battalion Chief Egan said OCFR are partnering with the Florida Department of Health (FDOH) to get the COVID vaccine. FDOH also trained nearly 70 firefighters to inoculate people.
"Often the residents at the senior living centers lack the capabilities or the transportation necessary to get to a site like our convention center," Egan said. "So this is an excellent program to be able to provide the service to those that absolutely are at a higher risk and need vaccine, who are unable to get it on their own without our assistance."
Egan said firefighters will visit the senior community ahead of the scheduled vaccination day to inform residents of the opportunity to receive the vaccine. They return within the week to administer the vaccine. Egan said the vaccines are only available to qualified residents and it is a complex process selecting which senior living communities to visit.
"We’re looking at the centers with the larger numbers of residents about the age of 65 and we’re starting there," Battalion Chief Egan said. "They usually have a clubhouse or a meeting room or some area that we could set-up. It has to have areas where they can wait. They can go through registration process. Get the vaccination, and most importantly, have an observation area."
OCFR said the goal is to vaccinate a different senior community each day and officials are asking for patience as they move through the process.
In a statement, an OCFR spokesperson said, "Please know that this is an extensive process as OCFR staff has to follow DOH guidelines, survey the site, make a logistics plan, notify residents of their opportunity to receive the vaccine, then return to vaccinate and book an additional visit to administer the second dose of the vaccine."
OCFR said this initiative is led by DOH and as more resources become available, OCFR and the Orange County Government will assist FDOH in Orange County to dispense the vaccine into the community as quickly as possible.