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COVID-19 vaccine site opens Monday at Raymond James Stadium

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Posted at 11:29 PM, Feb 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-02 03:32:55-05

TAMPA, Fla. — Starting Monday morning Lot 14 at Raymond James Stadium will be the new site for the COVID-19 vaccine.

State leaders decided to permanently move the site to Raymond James from University Mall after complaints about wait times and traffic congestion.

"It was a cluster," said James Harrington.

Things were so bad, some people chose to leave instead of getting the vaccine.

"I waited three hours," one man said. "My wife and I both."

According to a press release, the new site will accommodate up to 3,200 people per day.

If you already scheduled your first or second dose appointment the state says you don't need to take any further action. Everyone with vaccine or testing appointments made before the location switch will have those appointments honored at Raymond James.

The state also says if you got your first vaccine dose at the University Mall location, you will be automatically be scheduled for the second dose at the new location.

State health officials believe this change will make this process smoother, but people who live near the stadium, and people with appointments disagree.

"I feel like it's going to be congested for me," Raymond Young said. "They know that. It's like that for football games. "

You can only enter the new Raymond James Stadium site from the northbound lanes on Himes Ave. You will have to make a U-turn if you're going south on Himes. That's the problem some have with the new site. Drivers can legally make a U-turn at Woodlawn or go up one block and make it at Heiter. Some drivers believe that's a recipe for disaster and a traffic nightmare.

"I don't see where the state got their information about this being better," said Young.

ABC Action News reached out to the Florida Department of Health and Tampa Police.

We are still waiting to hear back from the Health Department.

A spokesperson for Tampa Police confirmed that they are working on a plan to keep traffic from getting out of hand and make sure drivers are being safe. The spokesperson did not have details Sunday afternoon.

Several people drove out to Raymond James Stadium to prepare themselves for what to expect Monday morning.

Harrington and his friends said, even if the lines and wait time doesn't improve, they're going to stay in line.

"I've gone this far," Harrington said. "I will have to tough it out."

Appointments are required. You can call 866-200-3896 or visit MyVaccine.FL.gov to make one.

The existing state-supported COVID-19 testing site at Raymond James will relocate to University Mall. It will resume normal testing on Tuesday, March 2. The hours of operation will stay the same at both sites.