HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) – Appointments for the COVID-19 vaccine are still available to residents age 65 and older this week in Hillsborough County. The County, in partnership with the Florida Department of Health in Hillsborough County, expanded the operational hours of its vaccine call center and will triple the number of call agents Tuesday to help residents in this category secure needed appointments.

If you’re one of the many folks unable to register for a covid-19 vaccine Monday afternoon, Hillsborough County officials say they’re working to make it up. “We definitely learned some lessons here today and we’re committed to providing a better experience down the road,” said Tim Dudley Jr., Hillsborough Co. Emergency Management Director.

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Dudley answered to the disarray of Monday’s COVID-19 appointment registration process after the website crashed due to an overwhelmingly high demand. “Today was a little rough. We did expect a great interest. It was unprecedented for the number of folks, especially, that are really interested. And that’s a good thing to see, that our folks in Hillsborough County are very interested in getting a vaccine, so it’s good for us to get these challenges up front before we get further down the road in different phases,” said Dudley.

The team took the online registration down Monday afternoon and made plans to keep it down through Tuesday. “We want to do a little bit more work on that and make sure we’re providing the best experience for you. And we know it’s frustrating, but we ask you to be patient,” said Dudley. Until then, you’re asked to phone them via the call center Hillsborough County officials tell me they’ve extended call center hours and added staffing to help with capacity issues.  Dudley added, “We’re going to offer a weekend opportunity and some evening opportunities as well.”

The doses will be distributed at vaccine distribution sites across the county beginning Wednesday. Hours there have also been added now that it’s clear so many are interested in receiving the vaccine. “This week from Wednesday through Saturday, we will have set up four sites to offer vaccine opportunities [for 65 and up],” Dudley said. And while the registration process was rocky, Hillsborough County is receiving an additional influx of vaccines this week to top their initial 4,000 from the state. “To help us provide more opportunity for 65 plus, we’ll receive 3,000 vaccines from Tampa General to offer appointments at these new sites.”

Due to overwhelmingly high demand, the external online registration system and phone center experienced service interruptions throughout Monday as teams worked to mitigate the technical issues. At this time, all appointments MUST be made by phone. Online registration has been temporarily discontinued.

Appointments are mandatory for residents age 65 and older to get the first of two vaccine injections.  Residents can make an appointment for the vaccination site most convenient for them. Appointments are available by calling (888) 755-2822.

Credit: Hillsborough County Health Department | CW44 News At 10

There will be no vaccines for residents without appointments, and there is no waiting list.

The doses will be distributed at four vaccine distribution sites strategically located across the county beginning on Wednesday, Jan 6, 2021.

This week’s schedule is as follows:

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Wednesday, Jan. 6
Strawberry Festival Fairgrounds, 2700 W. Risk St., Plant City, FL 33563
Ed Radice Sports Complex, 14720 Ed Radice Drive, Tampa, FL 33626

Thursday, Jan. 7
University Mall (parking lot), 2200 E. Fowler Ave., Tampa, FL 33612
Vance Vogel Sports Complex, 13012 Bullfrog Creek Road, Gibsonton, FL 33534

Friday, Jan. 8
University Mall (parking lot)
Strawberry Festival Fairgrounds
Ed Radice Sports Complex

Saturday, Jan. 9
University Mall (parking lot)
Strawberry Festival Fairgrounds

These sites were chosen for their geographic diversity, available resources, and population density of residents age 65 and older. Details about access to the vaccine distribution sites will be given to residents upon appointment confirmation. Subsequent weeks’ schedules will be based on vaccine supply.

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