Pinecrest set to open vaccination site

Pinecrest has been awaiting supply to open a COVID-19 vaccination site since January, but for now only plans to administer the vaccine to municipal workers and their family members.

The village has applied to work with the Miami-Dade Department of Health in response to COVID-19 by becoming a closed point of dispensing. A closed POD is a location authorized to provide potentially life-saving medication during a public health emergency to a small, pre-determined population, as defined by the Florida Department of Health.

Only village employees and their family members who meet current CDC guidelines would be eligible to receive the vaccine.

“In our case, the closed POD is intended to be for employees of the village and up to 14 of their family members,” said Village Manager Yocelyn Galiano on Jan. 27 during a village council workshop. “It was always our intent that once we rolled out the closed POD as a pilot to make sure we can handle the logistics of vaccinations that we apply for a POD open to the general public.”

The Miami-Dade Department of Health approved Pinecrest to become a POD in late December. Galiano said that Pinecrest is still awaiting vaccine supply, but is ready to set up the vaccination site within a day’s notice.

Michelle Hammontree, village spokeswoman, said that Pinecrest has already chosen the site and provider to administer coronavirus vaccines once the Department of Health gives Pinecrest clearance.

“One Milo Inc. will be the third-party providers that will administer the vaccines,” Hammontree said. “We executed all necessary agreements with them on Jan. 29 and are awaiting further instructions from the Department of Health.”

The company will open the drive-through vaccination site at Pinecrest Gardens. One Milo Inc. has also been running the village’s testing site as of last August out of the municipal center. 

Stephanie Michelle, a paralegal at Vinas & Delucca Personal Injury Law, took a COVID-19 PCR test with One Milo in August when the site opened. She said that her experience with One Milo was good at first, but that the customer service provided was questionable. 

“The first time I took the test with them, they seemed efficient and organized,” Michelle said. “The problem was when my son’s father took him to get tested, they charged me instead and wouldn’t refund me my money. 

“I would never go to them again, and I certainly wouldn’t go to them to administer any coronavirus vaccine either.”

Hammontree said that opening the testing site was meant to be a convenient way to safely test residents in the area.

“Having the testing site in the village is an amenity,” she said.”The tests are available for $25 and the turnaround is about two days, I think. It’s just fast and safe for everyone who lives in the area and has been successful thus far.”

In a council meeting on March 9, Galiano mentioned that expansion was possible. 

“We’re currently negotiating with a second provider that might open a vaccine site somewhere in the village,” she said. “We just need to get the supply, but we’re ready.”

Giuliana La Mendola is currently a junior at FIU majoring in Journalism and minoring in Nutrition. She hopes to combine her passions for writing and fitness to become a free-lance journalist in the health industry.