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Hillsborough County opens new COVID testing, vaccination, and booster site

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Posted at 5:45 PM, Oct 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-04 18:18:17-04

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — The push to get more people protected against COVID-19 across the country and in the Tampa Bay area is still underway. People in Hillsborough County are now able to roll up their sleeves at a new vaccination and testing site, where those who are eligible can also get booster shots.

On Monday, Hillsborough County opened a new site at Progress Village Park in Tampa for free COVID-19 testing and the Pfizer vaccine, including the Pfizer booster shot for those who are eligible.

“I called my mom, got in the car, got her, and was on the road by about 6:30 this morning to get here,” said Jeanine Lussier, who got a booster shot.

Lussier explained how she rushed out the door when she heard about the site. She says she cares for her immunocompromised brother and 86-year-old mother and said she feels overjoyed a little bit of freedom might be coming back.

“I’ve been a virtual prisoner for almost two years in my home, and just to finally get to that point where you’re really comfortable that a third booster is going to get you back up to that 95 percentile or so and still be cautious, but the fact that we can now go places, do things again,” said Lussier. “Even little things, even going to the gym. It’s just a big relief.”

When it comes to boosters, the county says they’ll only be given to people who are fully vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine and who got the second dose at least six months ago, as well as other criteria.

“If you’re like myself who got Moderna, you have to wait a little bit longer,” said Iñaki Rezola, the Operations Section Chief and Deputy Director for the Hillsborough County Office of Emergency Management. “If you got Pfizer and you got the two shots, you’re able to come in, get the booster shot, especially if you’re 65 and older or if you’re 18 and up and meet certain conditions like healthcare worker, immunocompromised, and they say, ‘Not a bad idea.'”

For those who haven’t received a vaccine, the county says the Pfizer vaccine will be available for people 12 and up and the vaccine will also be offered to people who have their first Pfizer dose and are in the timeframe to get their second dose.

If you want a booster, you must present your vaccination card that proves you received the Pfizer vaccine and shows the date you got the second shot.

Allen and Mary Ann Lynch got their boosters together and explained how they felt as they walked out of the site.

“It’s a sense of accomplishment basically,” said Allen Lynch. “We’ve been waiting for it to come, and this is a great place to come and do it.”

“It’s kind of like, it’s no big deal. Get the shot. You’ll be safe. Your grandkids will be safe. Everybody will be good,” said Mary Ann Lynch.

The site is open five days a week, Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.. While walkups are accepted for COVID testing, you’re asked to make an appointment to get a vaccine or booster. Rezola says as long as demand is there, they’ll stay open.

People at the new site Monday hope others take advantage of the easy, in-and-out process.

“Just everybody, please go get your vaccines,” said Lussier. “It’s a win-win situation for everybody.”