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Pinellas County to get more Covid vaccine doses and an improved registration system

Jaymi Butler

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covid vaccine
More than 29,000 Covid-19 vaccines have been distributed in Pinellas County.

After a frustrating first round, Pinellas County residents 65 and older will soon get another shot at registering for the Covid-19 vaccine, this time using a beefed-up reservation system.

According to Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County Director Dr. Ulyee Choe, about 10,000 doses of the vaccine will be available next week and will be distributed between the three existing DOH vaccine locations, plus two new locations that will be announced in the next few days. 

The news comes a week after Pinellas county administrator Barry Burton announced a joint effort between the county and the DOH to not only add additional vaccine sites but to also improve the registration process. Earlier this week, the county signed a $3 million contract with CDR Health Care to operate an online and phone registration system that’s also being used in other Tampa Bay counties. To prevent crashes, the new system requires people to sign up for vaccination appointments in designated two-hour time slots based on their age. 

But even with a better reservation system and more distribution sites, Burton noted that there’s still a long way to go to get vaccines in the arms of the county’s 250,000 seniors.

“People are going to have to be patient,” he said. “This is going to take months, not days.”

More than 29,000 people have already received at least the first dose of the vaccine in Pinellas, primarily through hospitals, health centers and at long-term care facilities which have been hardest hit by the pandemic, Choe said.  

Of that number, the DOH vaccinated 1,500 people last week who registered for the first round of vaccines available to seniors in the general public. Through the state pilot program for nursing homes and assisted living facilities, 8,800 have been vaccinated.

At a virtual meeting earlier this week, U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor expressed her frustration with the way vaccines have been rolled out statewide.

“There’s no secret this has been entirely too chaotic,” she said. “I’m very disappointed there hasn’t been a transparent vaccination plan for Florida.”

However, she’s hopeful that once President-Elect Joe Biden is sworn in Jan. 20, things will improve and the state will get more federal support.

“This is an unprecedented effort and we can’t let mistakes of the past on transparency delay us,” she said. “We have to pull together and get this done.”

Meanwhile, Covid numbers continue to climb locally. Daily case counts are now averaging around 586, close to the peak numbers from last summer. Additionally, the county’s two-week positivity rate continues to hover above 10 percent. While hospitals have been able to handle the demand so far, health officials say bed and staff capacity may be strained this month. 

To access information on vaccine availability, visit the Pinellas County government site or the Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County site

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9 Comments
here we go

9 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Randy German, SR

    January 13, 2021 at 3:07 pm

    I would like a simple way to register my name and address and when you get vaccines you cal/email me a time and day where I can get my vaccine. I registered before and I don’t know what happened to that one.
    Now I am registered again. Do you think I will get a response.

  2. Avatar

    David Bubacz

    January 13, 2021 at 3:40 pm

    Pinellas County sent me a text because we , my wife & i, live in a 55+ community. I filled out our info and have nothing since,other than all vaccine is gone for first dose. My point is you know where these communities are why not go to the communities one at a time and do the seniors there. That way they know you are coming and don’t have to stay in lines for hours, seems to me this would solve a lot of problems.

  3. Avatar

    h Luges

    January 13, 2021 at 6:58 pm

    I’m sorry, the health departments knew this vaccine was coming many months ago, and didn’t have a plan. You could have hired or asked for volunteers to administer the drug. Maybe a For Profit company, like walgreens or Publix, can figure it out better, and develop a online system to register its patients. This is a pourable!! The Heath department people should be thinking out of he box.

  4. Avatar

    Marilyn Bauer

    January 13, 2021 at 8:41 pm

    I am 88.5 years old and cannot stand in a line .Make appointment in Largo Health Department and let me know.

  5. Avatar

    Sharon

    January 14, 2021 at 8:16 am

    I tried the system under the new vendor in Hillsborough County. No progress. Same model as before. Massive call-in to overloaded number… I had a 3 hour wait. When answered, she said the entire system was glitched up. Online I got through to 1st shot spot, it failed on 2nd shot appt. I have screen shots. Too complicated. Recommend you adopt Manatee model of registering everyone. You call them, tell them when and where to be. Right now you have over 4M seniors. How are you going to expand to 16M youngers? Hillsborough and Pasco have same contract… not a good model.

  6. Avatar

    Hana Niessl

    January 14, 2021 at 12:52 pm

    Pinellas County has about 200000 people over age 65, not counting snowbirds. Please supply more vaccines and open more vaccinations centers otherwise with current speed it will take for ever to vaccinate our elderly population. Need volunteers? Just ask.

  7. Avatar

    Edward Quill

    January 14, 2021 at 3:23 pm

    I was able to register my wife and myself before the site shut down, after doing so I received a message that all 3000 doses had been exhausted and that the site was being shut down. Please make it clear whether or not people who were able to register on the old database need to re-register. This has been an incredible foul up!

  8. Avatar

    Katherine Graham

    January 15, 2021 at 8:54 am

    There has to be a better way. I can’t even register in Pinellas County, which is where I live. However, I have registered in Hillsborough and Manatee Counties. Why is that? Are they better administered?

  9. Avatar

    Joan Meehan-Dion

    January 15, 2021 at 12:08 pm

    Trying to register my 90 year old father for the vaccine. Been unable to register him on multiple sites.He lives in a senior living facility in Pinellas County. This facility houses 300+ seniors. Suggest having vaccines be dispensed here on-site. Many of the residents here are handicapped, have difficultly walking, or need transportation. Please provide guidance on how to register him and fellow residents for the vaccine.Thank you for your continued hard work and compassion.

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