Tampa Bay area vaccine sites prepare for influx as more Floridians become eligible

Tampa Greyhound Track site
Posted at 11:28 PM, Mar 27, 2021

TAMPA, Fla. — Vaccination eligibility is expanding on Monday, March 29, with the age requirement lowering to include those 40-years-old and over, then on the following Monday, eligibility will lower to include those 16-years-old and over.

Local vaccination sites are expecting a big influx of people over the course of the next several weeks, as they continue to vaccinate those currently eligible, as well as the new groups of eligible people, but a spokesperson at the federally-supported site at the Tampa Greyhound Track says they’re ready to tackle it.

“We ask that people be patient,” said Carole Covey, Incident Commander for the Florida Division of Emergency Management.

Patience will be a good rule of thumb as the state moves to widen vaccination eligibility to include more than 80 percent of the state’s population by April 5, which is when they lower eligibility to include those 16 and older.

“Working very closely with our state and federal partners to make sure we do have enough vaccine allocated to us, to reach that new age group that comes in. As far as the site operation itself, we are fully capable to take care of an influx,” said Covey.

According to the Florida Department of Health, as of Saturday, March 27, more than 5.6 million people have completed their vaccine series.

Erin and Don Sizemore joined that group on Saturday.

“It just feels like a ticket to freedom in a way, and not back to normal, but somewhat normal,” said Erin Sizemore.

Erin and Don are both teachers, and now, they’ve got one less thing to worry about.

“Having had to go back to work and be in front of students and parents and other teachers in the community, it was definitely the right thing to do,” said Don Sizemore.

And in just over a week, they hope to get their 17-year-old son, who works at Publix, a shot at normalcy, too, by getting him the Pfizer vaccine, since Pfizer’s Emergency Use Authorization includes those ages 16 and up.

“Just knowing that he’s exposed way more than we think he is,” said Erin.

Coming up next week, Florida is set to receive more than 1.2 million vaccine doses, the largest allocation yet.

And to make sure things are smooth sailing from here, an FDEM spokesperson reminds people to make sure they meet the criteria before heading to a site.

“We just encourage those that are scheduled for their second dose to please come on their scheduled day. It has to do with our vaccine allotment. Bring your CDC card with you that tells you when you got your first dose, and for those that are trying to come in for a first dose, we just ask that you follow that Executive Order criteria,” said Covey.

The federally-supported vaccine site at the Tampa Greyhound Track is just one of many vaccine sites across the Tampa Bay area. Appointments are not necessary there, and they offer 1,000 first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine every day, and 2,000 second doses.

If you’d like to make an appointment at another local site in the Tampa Bay area, click here for info.

And to ensure you’re covered under the Governor’s Executive Order, click here.