After rough start, Pinellas, Hillsborough register 12,000 for vaccine appointments

Slots are now full for the first rollout of COVID-19 vaccinations for seniors in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties, with a combined 12,000 doses expected to be administered.

On Wednesday, seniors in Hillsborough County will be able to get the vaccine.

"We’ll be putting vaccines in arms come 8 o’clock tomorrow morning," said Timothy Dudley, the Hillsborough County Emergency Management director.

LINK: COVID-19 vaccine distribution information in Tampa Bay area counties

Seniors who made appointments in Hillsborough County must bring their ID, confirmation and consent forms, and those who do not have an appointment will be turned away.

"When you scheduled that appointment it was for your specific site. So tomorrow, Strawberry Festival Fairgrounds is one of the locations and Ed Radice park," said Dudley.

After the shot, seniors will wait up to 30 minutes to watch for any reactions and get the date for their second dose.

Slots for the first round went quick this week, with only 9,000 doses for 200,000 Hillsborough County seniors and only 3,000 shots to cover 250,000 Pinellas County seniors. County officials are urging everyone to have patience.

MORE: First round of Florida healthcare workers gets second vaccine dose

"As there are very few vaccinations available and slots are filling up quickly, we know that people are calling around to different county health departments looking to get open appointments," said Tom Iovino, a spokesperson with the Pinellas County Health Department

Iovino said Pinellas seniors can only get the vaccine at health department clinics for these doses right now, but they expect to expand to other locations for future vaccinations.

"We’re getting so close to having that vaccine that we just need people to bear with us just a few more months until we can really get the number of vaccines up, so we can really start to see some progress made in this," said Iovino.

Counties are waiting on the state to send the next shipment of doses. In the meantime, officials said they learned from this week’s problems and are improving the sign up process.

MORE: Publix to administer COVID-19 vaccine in 3 Central Florida counties

"We do have vaccines available for next week that we’ll start the planning process to make appointments," said Dudley.

County leaders are asking for people’s patience. They said they expect to know in the coming days how many doses will be available for next week.

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 Email responses will be sent during call center hours.

LINK: Florida's COVID-19 website

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