ORLANDO, Fla. - One woman happened to be in the right place at the right time to get a COVID-19 vaccine. She’s 35 and not in one of the priority groups, but says she happened to be able to get a "leftover" dose.
"It was about 8 at night and I remembered ‘Oh no, Mom. It’s your appointment today!’"
It was the day of the Capitol riot in Washington D.C. and Monica Morrison had almost forgotten about her mom’s vaccine appointment at the Orange County Convention Center.
By the time she realized and rushed over there, the site was getting ready to close for the night.
"When we got there at the end of the night there was no one there. No one was there," said Morrison.
Then this happened.
"I was speaking to these nurses about how I had heard that there were extra doses in the vial and then they told me ‘Yeah, that actually is true. We sometimes have extra doses.’ And I said ‘Well, do you have an extra dose tonight?’ And they said ‘Well, actually we do.’"
Morrison said the nurse checked with her supervisor and got the go-ahead. Morrison was enrolled and vaccinated a few minutes later.
"The fact that I could get the shot in my arm and contribute to the immunity of my community, I was thrilled."
Morrison is the caregiver for her mother, who lives with her. They’re due back for their second doses on February 4. While she’s happy to be vaccinated, she says she feels bittersweet.
"We both feel a sense of relief. This has been so taxing on us all. I am one of the lucky ones, but I wish that more people could get lucky."
She recognizes the importance of those priority groups getting vaccinated first but said the state needs to find a way to better handle the shots that are leftover at the end of the day.
"I wish that there was a waitlist. Some waitlist where people could be on standby, or perhaps people could drive their elders to an appointment and wait on a standby list because if these doses are there at the end of the day, it’d be nice to have some kind of logistics around that."
Particularly so they don’t go unused and go to waste.
Prioritization is important, she said, but so is getting as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible.
We reached out to the Health Department in Orange County about what happened, but haven’t heard back.
In Seminole County, they have already created a waitlist for seniors. Leftover doses are brought to long-term care facilities and homebound seniors. Officials there are discouraging people from showing up and waiting at vaccination sites.