Thousands of COVID-19 vaccine appointments in The Villages canceled due to supply issue

Residents of The Villages cruised by an empty lot behind The Fresh Market, hoping to see some action Thursday.  They were in search of the coronavirus vaccine.

"What was really disappointing is, then we got the email that said we’re out of here, and no explanation, no idea of what we’re going to be doing going forward.  It was really disappointing," Chuck Boyer told FOX 35 News. 

Just last week Gov. Ron DeSantis was out at the COVID-19 vaccine site that the state contracted Global Medical Response (GMR) to run, complimenting the work they were doing.  GMR administered 4,000 vaccines during their first five days in operation. 

"We did become a well-oiled machine and we got rave reviews from the community until we had to face the fact that the supply was going to be interrupted for that site," said Terrence Ramotar, a director for GMR. 

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With no vaccine for the week, GMR pulled up their tents, only leaving behind a large electronic sign saying "COVID SITE TEMP CLOSED."

Ramotar says they had to email 7,000 people 65-and-older who had appointments to get vaccinated to tell them their appointments were canceled this week. 

"They will not lose their place in line. As soon as we get vaccine we’ll pick back up where we left off," Ramotar said. 

He explained that more than 70,000 registered in their system expressing interest in getting vaccinated at their vaccine site in The Villages. One by one, once they know the vaccine is coming, they will start giving those who registered a code to sign up for a vaccine appointment.  Ramotar explained they have a 3-month contract with the state to start, and will keep extending it as long as there is a need to vaccinate people.

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"The site is not shut down. It's temporarily suspended. We can be back up and running 24-36 hours once we know what our next commitment (of vaccine) is," Ramotar said.  Their site in The Villages is considered a mass vaccine site, and in order to operate, they must innoculate at least 800 to 1,000 people per day.  Given the supply, Ramotar says they could do double that.

At this point, GMR is still waiting to hear from the state if, when, and how much they’ll get vaccine next week.

Tune in to FOX 35 Orlando for the latest Central Florida news.