500 hit the jackpot in Manatee County’s COVID-19 vaccination lottery pool Friday

They are the words thousands in Manatee County are waiting to hear. 

"You were selected from the COVID vaccination standby pool," said Kim Stroud. 

On Friday, 500 people received the call. 

"I called you earlier and didn’t get an answer from you. I’m glad we called you back," said Stroud into the phone. 

Stroud is Manatee County's human resources director. Friday morning she gave hope to each person she dialed, in the form of a COVID-19 vaccination appointment. 

"Whether you’re the HR director or any other position in the county, we’ve got representatives from every single department answering calls, calling citizens, working the vaccine event," she said. 

Manatee County is using a system unique in the Bay Area. It's a lottery-style vaccine waiting pool. People 65 and over can register themselves and one other person. The website went live Thursday night and was immediately flooded with requests. There were problems for about 20 minutes, but the county's IT department got it back online. 

People 65 and over can register for it at Vax.mymanatee.org or by calling 311 during business hours. 
There's no need to be first in line. 

"Once you’re on that vaccine waiting pool we randomize those that are in that pool and start calling from a randomized selection for appointments from our 311 center," said Public Safety Director Jacob Saur. 

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By 11 a.m. on Friday 32,000 people had registered. Saur said 90% of those registered are county residents. 

"There is just such high demand right now everyone needs to take a deep breath, we are allowing you to get on the vaccine waiting pool. There is no shut off time we will get to you eventually," he said. 

Those who were called felt luckier than they'd been in years. 

"You hear people crying out of just such appreciation. I had one citizen say it’s his lucky day and he will play the lottery today in hopes that he will win that as well," said Stroud. 

To register visit vax.mymanatee.org or call 311 weekdays, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. 

If you feel sick:

The Florida Department of Health has opened a COVID-19 Call Center at 1-866-779-6121. Agents will answer questions around the clock. Questions may also be emailed to covid-19@flhealth.gov. Email responses will be sent during call center hours.

LINK: Florida's COVID-19 website

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