Tampa Bay public health experts weigh in on COVID-19 vaccination pace, supply and demand

COVID vaccine AP
Posted at 6:50 PM, Apr 20, 2021

TAMPA, Fla. — People across the country and in the Tampa Bay area continue to roll up their sleeves for the COVID-19 vaccine. Local public health officials are weighing in on the pace of vaccinations in the state and where we stand with supply and demand.

Tuesday morning at the Tampa Greyhound Track vaccination site, Carole Covey, the site’s incident commander, shared they had 3,000 first doses of the Pfizer vaccine to offer to the community.

“It is a rainy day, so we anticipate it’s a little bit slower because of that, but we have not seen very many first doses come through today,” said Covey said Tuesday morning.

ABC Action News looked at the demand at other sites as well. The Florida Division of Emergency Management sent data for the Raymond James vaccination site. The data shows there were about 1,000 more first doses given at the site last week compared to a week in mid-March. A spokesperson did note during that week in March, the site was still appointment only and vaccine eligibility wasn’t as expanded.

Major pharmacies shared about the demand for the COVID-19 vaccine as well. CVS said they continue to see a demand for COVID-19 vaccine appointments. Publix explained customers can book appointments at their convenience as they are available, also saying there is more vaccine availability at different outlets, so this could impact demand.

“My impression is, at least here in Florida, that the supply and demand are pretty balanced still,” said Dr. Thomas Unnasch, a Distinguished USF Health professor. “So we’re not having an excess of supply that’s coming into the state of Florida. So most of the shots that we’re getting in are getting turned around and getting put in arms within a week or so.”

Dr. Unnasch said pace has dramatically increased since the end of January.

CDC data shows half of all adults in the US have gotten at least one shot of the vaccine. When asked if he thinks it’ll be more difficult to get that other half vaccinated, Unnasch said he thinks they’re probably the people who are a little more reluctant, sharing the importance of making sure the vaccine is readily available.

“You make it like it’s as available as the flu vaccine, I think is going to really convince those people, ‘Oh, I can just walk in and get this on a Saturday when I’m walking to get my prescription filled,” said Unnasch.

Unnasch also explained letting your guard down too early before you’re fully vaccinated is probably a bad idea, explaining you still need to be careful. The CDC does recommend people who are fully vaccinated keep taking precautions in public, like wearing a mask.