People wait for hours at packed state-supported vaccination site in Tampa

Cars in line
university mall-packed lines of cars1.jpg
Posted at 7:22 PM, Feb 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-12 17:12:10-05

TAMPA, Fla. — Friday was another long day of waiting for people trying to receive a COVID-19 vaccine at the state vaccination site in Tampa.

People who had appointments to receive either their first or second dose of the shot waited several hours to get it.

The Florida Division of Emergency Management said the long lines are due to people who do not have appointments, showing up, and clogging up the lines. They say site staff were working to identify those individuals, asking them to return when they do have an appointment.

“Took us about 2.5 hours before we got the shot,” said Darlene Owens, who waited in line Friday for her vaccine.

For hours, the line of cars took up the entire right, westbound lane of Fowler Ave., extending well beyond Bruce B. Downs Blvd.

“We’ve been in line for about an hour now, it’s been kind of a big mess because people are pulling in everywhere, and then there’s people that are just sneaking through, and cutting in the lines,” said Julie Draher, who was waiting in line with her mother-in-law so she could receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

Friday marked day two of the state conducting second dose appointments at Tampa's University Mall. It was almost a direct repeat of Thursday, when idling cars waited more than 3 hours to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

"I can tell you the wait time was not what we wanted. The wait time for some people was an excess of 3 hours. That's not how we want this to be done," said Kevin Watler, Public Information Officer for the Florida Department of Health in Hillsborough County.

The Florida Division of Emergency Management hopes they can clear up some confusion surrounding appointments, so the site can run more smoothly in the future.

They're reminding people, the date listed on their CDC vaccination card is not a confirmed appointment. You must schedule an appointment in order to receive your first or second dose.

The state says if you have not been contacted for your second dose appointment and it’s past the date listed on your CDC vaccination card, you can either call a designated help line for your county or visit, choose your county, click "Get in Line," provide your contact information, and select the box that says, “Are you seeking your first dose?” and select, “No, I am seeking my second dose,” from the drop-down menu, then click "Get in Line" again.

Florida vaccine registration site
Florida vaccine registration site

The state says it's working to schedule second dose appointments as quickly as possible. They also want to remind people they are not taking walk-up appointments. You must be in a vehicle when you arrive.

RELATED: Florida announces COVID-19 vaccination site at University Mall in Tampa