BRADENTON, Fla. - Demand is high in Manatee County for the coronavirus vaccine. Within an hour after online registration opened for residents 65 and older to make a vaccination appointment, all available time slots were filled.
On Tuesday, Manatee County opened its online registration at 10 a.m. Then, by 11 a.m., officials confirmed it was "sold out" until more appointments become available. There is no waiting list for the current registration process.
County officials asked for patience and said residents should keep an eye on the website for additional time slots to open.
Counties across Florida have already begun to roll out the COVID-19 vaccine to their senior population – not just to those living in nursing homes. In the Bay Area, Manatee County will be the first to follow suit and will begin administering the vaccine to seniors in the general public starting Wednesday.
In a virtual press conference, health officials gave the following directions for seniors to register for a vaccination appointment:
- Head over to www.mymanatee.org/vaccine to complete DOH covid vaccine screening and form
- Register for an online appointment
- On day of the appointment, bring completed consent form, registration ticket and valid ID to show you are 65 or older
- Must be available 28 days after first dose
"For all of you who are snowbirds, there are no residency requirements," said Manatee County spokesperson Nicholas Azzara. "We just ask that you able to come back in the timeframe to receive your second dose."
Officials in Orange County began administering vaccines to residents who are 65 and older today.
Two weeks ago, Pinellas County was one of two Florida counties to begin vaccinations inside nursing homes, but Manatee County’s plan to vaccinate seniors who are 65 and older will be the first rollout of the vaccine to the general public for the Bay Area.
Currently, Manatee County stated they plan to vaccinate about 300 seniors a day by appointment only at their Public Safety Center in Bradenton. On Friday, they will move the vaccine site to Bennett Park on Friday to accommodate 500 per day.
Governor Ron DeSantis has stressed that he wants the focus to be on the most vulnerable population in the state, which would be those 65 and older. As this rollout begins, seniors will be at the top of the list.
There are over 4 million seniors in Florida, and, currently, there are not enough vaccinations on hand to administer to all seniors immediately. DeSantis has urged seniors to be patient as he says this is going to take time to make sure the vaccine gets out to those who need it most.
CDC recommendations state that those on the front lines, like first responders, teachers, grocery store workers, should be the first ones to receive this vaccine. However, DeSantis stated in a press conference last week that he doesn’t believe those in their 70s should be waiting in line behind younger workers who aren’t as susceptible to the virus.
As of now, priority will be given to those who live or work in a long-term care facility, are 65 or older, or to health care workers with direct patient contact.
Currently, Manatee County is the only Bay Area county to announce exact plans for vaccinating the general public. Other counties are still waiting for shipments of the vaccine to arrive.