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FAMU still working to raise vaccine rollout numbers at Al Lawson Center

Posted at 6:06 PM, Mar 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-10 12:40:28-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — It's now been a week since Florida A&M University's walk-up vaccine site opened its doors and people still aren't showing up as quickly as they hoped.

Florida A&M said they need help getting more minorities to the Al Lawson Center for a vaccine and they’re hoping churches could be the answer. The university said they're going to ramp up communication efforts through social media blasts along with giving churches more informational pamphlets to pass out to spread the word about the site.

They're also working on a way to get people free transportation there. FAMU said, so far, the site has administered 486 Moderna doses since last week, including 129 shots Wednesday and 95 on Thursday.

Health Services Director Tanya Tatum said most of these people are African-American. She believes roll-out just isn't where it needs to be and they want to fix it.

"We weren't getting near the number of people we want to vaccinate," said Tatum. "We have the ability to vaccinate 200 people and we'd really like to meet that target every day."

Right now, the walkup vaccine site is open to Florida teachers 50 and older, medically vulnerable people, law enforcement and seniors over 65. Kenny Maguire said for him, and his wife, who's medically vulnerable, this site has been a blessing.

"I feel wonderful," said Maguire. "We've been waiting for this day for a year. Like I said, she's been under strict lockdown for a year with pulmonary hypertension. I travel for work. It's been a rough year. I'm surprised there's not lines out the door here, honestly."

Jeremy Shaw works IT for Leon County Schools. He said he's happy he can finally get the protection he needs from coronavirus.

"It's one of those things like, since I work with the school board, it's not really about me per se because I visit schools so much so I want to make sure the other folks are protected as well," said Shaw.

Originally, the idea was to have these shots go to people like Catherine and James Butler, who are both 71-years-old. They're seniors who want to return a sense of normalcy to their lives.

"I want to get out more to go to church and just visit," said Catherine Butler. "l'll still wear my mask but I wanted to get it over with."

"We're open to everybody, but we're really trying to do a lot of outreach in the under-served area, the Southside of Tallahassee," said Tatum. "We want to make sure they know they can get the vaccine, those that are eligible, and if there's some way we can assist, we're going to try to do that.

Tatum said the university is working with local agencies to come up with free rides to get more people to the site. The university believes, while the rollout numbers aren't ideal, their goals are still working on a smaller scale.

"The majority of individuals that are coming in are Black Americans so I'm very happy with the demographics of the individuals who have been coming so I think we're reaching the groups that we wanted to come out," said Tatum. "We just don't have enough of them yet."

Until FAMU works out their own transportation help, you do still have the option to take a city bus or call Big Bend 211 for those Lyft rides from home.

One thing to keep in mind, if you’re looking for a vaccine and you fall in the “medically vulnerable” category under fifty, FAMU said they can’t guarantee you a shot.

After Governor DeSantis changed the guidelines on who can give those doses, they don’t always have a nurse practitioner or physician there.

The site is open Monday through Sunday, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.