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Tampa Bay counties’ vaccination appointments full

Florida Department of Health offices in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco and Hernando counties said Wednesday they need more vaccine doses before they re-open appointment opportunities.
Florida Department of Health medical workers prepare to give seniors a COVID-19 vaccination in the parking lot of the Gulf View Square Mall in New Port Richey.
Florida Department of Health medical workers prepare to give seniors a COVID-19 vaccination in the parking lot of the Gulf View Square Mall in New Port Richey. [ OCTAVIO JONES | Times ]
Published Jan. 6, 2021
Updated Jan. 6, 2021

Tampa Bay’s local health departments were at a standstill Wednesday when it came to scheduling coronavirus vaccinations for people 65 and older, with appointments full and vaccine supply waning.

Both Pinellas and Hillsborough counties stopped scheduling vaccination appointments by phone on Tuesday, citing a lack of vaccine supply, a day after their online registration portals crashed.

At the Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County, the vaccine hotline is not accepting appointments until the department receives new doses of the vaccine, according to spokesman Tom Iovino.

The department is teaming up with other Pinellas County government agencies “to alleviate future vaccination hurdles,” according to a press release. The entities are working to “identify a reliable pre-registration platform that will make it easy for people to sign up to receive the COVID-19 vaccine when more become available.”

Pinellas County officials also submitted a plan for state approval that would open four additional vaccination sites, according to the release.

Hillsborough County officials expect new shipments of the vaccine weekly, according to Kevin Watler, spokesman for the local health department. More vaccination appointments will be made available as the department receives more supply, he said. Hillsborough County residents should visit HCFLGov.net/vaccine for updates.

Both Hillsborough and Pinellas health departments advised residents to show up for their scheduled vaccination appointments on time, but not early.

Pasco County’s health department will not be making more vaccination appointments this week, according to the department’s registration site.

The site shows no availability for the rest of the week, with slots for Thursday and Friday marked “postponed until supply becomes available.” Once additional doses are available, the department will open appointments on its scheduling site, eventbrite.com/o/florida-department-of-health-pasco-county-32134585449.

“If you received a notice that you were on a waitlist, you will be contacted via email as early as January 6, 2021,” according to the department’s website.

Phone lines remained busy Wednesday at the Florida Department of Health in Hernando County, with residents inquiring about appointments, said spokeswoman Ashley Thomas. The department is at capacity for appointments this week and next, Thomas said.

The department is working to call back residents who left messages, attempting to make appointments and schedule them for next week, she said. Hernando County residents may call 352-540-6800 or visit http://hernando.floridahealth.gov for more information.

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