TAMPA, Fla. — First Lady Jill Biden and Chief White House Medical Adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci traveled to Kissimmee and Tampa Thursday to visit vaccine sites and encourage everyone in the communities to get vaccinated.
In Kissimmee, the First Lady visited a drive-through vaccination site administered by Osceola Community Health Services. Later in the day in Tampa, the First Lady joined the Tampa Bay Lightning for AdventHealth's Shots On Ice vaccination event at AMALIE Arena.
As a part of the Together Tampa Bay initiative, AdventHealth hosted the vaccination event at AMALIE Arena. Floridians were invited to register to receive vaccinations, take shots on the net from the ice, score photos with ThunderBug and the Zamboni, as well as receive Lightning swag.
Plus, Floridians also had the opportunity to partake in sweepstakes for great prizes, including Lightning game tickets.
"I’m asking you to please go get your shot. And to do that I want to say three things to those who haven’t yet. So getting the vaccine is safe. It’s effective. And it’s free," said the First Lady, noting the number of people fully vaccinated in Florida isn't enough.
"You are actually in the trenches on the ground part of the solution not only of the problem here in Florida, not only the problem in the United States but the problem in the entire world," Fauci told those in the arena.
Floridians are encouraged to get vaccinated at this event and REGISTER HERE.
AdventHealth provided no-cost Pfizer two-dose and Johnson & Johnson single-dose COVID-19 vaccinations.
"We’re seeing a shift in the patients in the hospital that are being hospitalized with COVID and the majority of those patients today are not vaccinated so we’re hoping that proof is enough to help people understand vaccines are working and please get vaccinated," Dr. Robin McGuinness, the senior executive officer of patient outcomes for AdventHealth's West Florida Division.
These trips are part of the Administration’s nationwide tour to reach millions of Americans who still need protection against the virus, highlight the ease of getting vaccinated, and mobilize grassroots vaccine education and outreach efforts.
Dequitia Parker, with Metropolitan Ministries, received the vaccine with the First Lady cheering her on before she formally introduced Biden.
Parker explained her previous uncertainty included the history of the Tuskegee Airmen, but learning more from Metropolitan Ministries and doctors led to her decision to get the shot.
"Hearing about the D variant that’s out there, I actually contracted COVID last year and I was really sick and I didn’t want to take the chance of getting it again and getting even sicker and you know just praying about it," Parker said.
Parker walked away excited.
Florida is set to fall short of reaching the Biden administration's goal of having 70% of people ages 18 and up vaccinated with at least one dose of the COVID-19 shot by July 4. However, the state is on track to hit that benchmark by the end of July, according to a leading epidemiologist.
Dr. Jason Salemi, an epidemiologist with USF Health, ran projections using the state's rate of adult vaccination over the past two weeks.
Salemi said if the current rate holds, Florida will have 65.5% of adults vaccinated by the holiday. It's likely the state will hit the 70% goal around the end of July, he said.
This comes as health officials are urging people to get the shot as the new Delta variant continues to spread across the United States.
"We've seen all over the place that these variants are very opportunistic, and they're happy to find susceptible people in our communities," Salemi said. "Again, the number one way that we can protect ourselves against these variants, which are causes for concern, is by getting the majority of people in our communities vaccinated."
Florida Department of Health's latest COVID19 report shows about 56 percent of eligible Floridians vaccinated.
The agency states in part:
"Florida’s case positivity has been below 5% for a month, and has continued to decrease over 10 weeks. Cases in seniors ages 65 and older are the lowest since early in the pandemic, with almost 85% of Florida’s seniors vaccinated. Nearly 90% of the population is eligible for the vaccine, which is widely available statewide.
The State of Florida continues encouraging eligible individuals to get vaccinated at many of the available locations in Florida. We are also actively working on public service announcements, as well as coordinating public health campaigns to continue encouraging eligible Floridians to get vaccinated. For information on where to get a vaccine, visit our [flhealthcovid19.gov]website."