Military troops put together for the subsequent mission: Orlando Vaccinators
ORLANDO, Florida – Lt. Col. Troy Fisher says he spent most of his 20-year military career in Iraq and Afghanistan.
What you need to know
- Lt. Col. Troy Fisher heads a federally supported vaccination center in Valencia West
- The site opens on Wednesdays and is open seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
- Orlando Police chief among 500 law enforcement officers to get vaccinated Tuesday
- Satellite sites are scheduled to open in St. Cloud, the Englewood neighborhood of Orlando, by Saturday
Now he is leading troops at a federally sponsored COVID-19 vaccination site on the Valencia College West campus in Orlando.
“I haven’t done anything like this before,” said Fisher on Tuesday. “I’m looking forward to it as much as anything else I’ve done because it cares about the US people and so we should all be proud of it.”
Fisher spoke about about 130 members of the Army’s 101st Airborne Division, as well as state and federal employees, prepared for Wednesday when the Valencia College West site will offer vaccinations to qualified residents. No appointments are necessary, he said.
Valencia College is one of four federal government-sponsored Florida locations that are slated to remain open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week.
Lt. Col. Troy Fisher on the military effort at the Valencia College vaccination center: “I have not done anything like this before. … That cares about the US people and we should all be proud of that. “# N13COVID19 pic.twitter.com/luhFex1WgP
– Pete Reinwald, News 13 (@petereinwald) March 2, 2021
Fisher – commander of the 626th Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team – said the site plans to give 2,000 to 3,000 shots a day and that “we are currently focusing on the Pfizer vaccine.”
If the newly approved Johnson & Johnson vaccine “hits us,” he said, “we need to exercise.”
The Valencia College site will serve as a hub for two so-called federal satellite sites through Saturday – the Engelwood Recreation Center in Orlando and the St. Cloud Civic Center.
The satellite sites will remain open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and can each fire up to 500 shots per day, according to the Florida Division of Emergency Management. No appointments are made for these websites.
From March 7-10, the satellite locations will be relocated to Kelly Park in Apopka and the Highlands County Sports Complex in Sebring.
The Florida Department of Emergency Management says the federal government-sponsored sites are part of “a national effort to improve access of COVID-19 vaccines to underserved populations”.
Orlando Police Chief Orlando Rolon noted that he grew up in the Engelwood Park neighborhood, which is home to a high Latino population, and he saw this as an opportunity to serve an underserved community.
Fisher said the sites will be giving shots to every Florida governor. Ron DeSantis authorizes to receive them. DeSantis on Monday expanded Florida’s vaccination program, which focused on health care workers and local residents ages 65 and over, to include police officers, firefighters and K-12 teachers ages 50 and over.
Those classified by a doctor as “extremely susceptible” to COVID-19 can also get vaccinated at federal locations. The Florida Department of Health on Monday issued a special form that a patient’s doctor must fill out to vouch for their condition.
Nearly 100 people under Fischer’s command have been trained to give the vaccine, he said.
“And what you are about to see is the beginning of that effort,” said Fisher.
He was referring to about 500 police officers who were vaccinated on-site on Tuesday.
“A select population will show us whether we have done the setup correctly,” he said, “and tomorrow we will have extensive vaccinations.”
The process will work like this, Fisher said:
Upon arrival in the Valencia College West car park, vaccine recipients enter the first of a series of tents where they have their temperature taken and are asked if they have pre-registered for a vaccination.
Then they are checked for identification and vaccination qualifications.
After that, “you go to the vaccination tent and you see a large number of soldiers here to deliver the vaccine,” said Fisher.
Then they go to an observation tent where they wait 15 to 30 minutes to make sure they don’t experience any serious reactions.
From the first tent to the last, the entire process could take 45 minutes, Fisher said.
Rolon was under about 140 from the Orlando Police Department to get vaccinated on Tuesday.
“There’s a small army looking after us,” said Orlando Rolon, Orlando Police Chief, of the military efforts at the Valencia College vaccination center. He was under 140 from OPD to get the shot. In 2020 “we lost more officers to COVID than on duty.” # N13COVID19 pic.twitter.com/7cBX2fPTEP
– Pete Reinwald, News 13 (@petereinwald) March 2, 2021
“It was a very smooth process … air-conditioned tents while you wait your turn and get registered,” he said.
Rolon noted that the U.S. lost more police officers to COVID-19 than to deaths on duty in 2020.
He said more than 100 of the department’s nearly 900 officials tested positive for the virus, but none had died.
About half of his officials have expressed an interest in getting a vaccination, he said.
“As we continue to see the positive things and results from these vaccinations, I think more people will tend to get involved in the process,” said Rolon, who also received the vaccine. “I took part to show that I buy this. This is something that we should all consider. And I can only recommend it. “
As for the US Army workers in Orlando, Fisher said, “There is one thing I wanted to share with you about my soldiers: They are super excited to be here.”
Reporter Rebecca Turco contributed to this story.