Tallahassee — In an effort to ramp up vaccination efforts for Florida residents in the fight against the novel coronavirus, the state, in partnership with the federal government, is establishing four COVID-19 vaccination sites throughout the state, according to Gov. Ron DeSantis, whose office announced the move Friday, Feb. 19, in a news release.
These sites will open March 3 and will operate from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily in Miami, Orlando, Tampa and Jacksonville. Each site will administer 2,000 vaccines per day, the release state. Additionally, each site will have two smaller, mobile satellite sites that will conduct 500 vaccinations per day in underserved areas. Through this hub-and-spoke model each group of one primary site and two satellite sites will offer 3,000 vaccinations per day.
The federally supported sites are listed below:
• Tampa Greyhound Track, 755 E. Waters Ave., Tampa, FL 33604. (866-200-3896; TTY, 844-251-5532)
• Valencia College – West Campus, 1800 S. Kirkman Road, Orlando, FL 32811. (866-201-3604; TTY, 833-476-1024)
• Gateway Mall, 5200 Norwood Ave., Jacksonville, FL 32208. (866-200-3762; TTY, 833-476-1027)
• Miami Dade Community College (North Campus), 11380 NW 27th Ave., Miami, FL 33167. (888-499-0840; TTY, 888-256-8918)
According to the release, these sites are opening through a partnership between the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), U.S. Department of Defense, the Florida Department of Health, Florida Division of Emergency Management and Florida National Guard.
The state will utilize the current preregistration system and work with local community organizations to proactively schedule appointments. To preregister with the statewide system, individuals can either call the designated phone number for those respective counties or visit myvaccine.fl.gov. Though the governor’s office release stated residents should call their respective county registration numbers, DOH-Citrus spokeswoman Audrey Stasko said that’s not true. If Citrus residents call Citrus’ preregistration number, their appointment for a vaccine would be scheduled for Citrus County.
“If you register in Citrus County, you will get an appointment with Citrus County,” she stressed, adding those who prefer to receive a vaccine locally to register online or for those who do not have internet access to call 866-201-0442, or for TTY, it’s 833-476-1036. The county’s helpline number is 833-540-2058.
Samantha Bequer, press secretary for the Florida Division of Emergency Management, asks county residents to be patient.
“The prompts are correct,” Bequer said, “but they (callers) have to get through a few screening questions (before registering). The prompts do take a little while.”
The screening questions include such things as whether you are a Florida resident and whether you are 65 years old or older.
Bequer said callers should not expect to speak to a person on their initial call.
“Once an individual calls the designated number for their county and provides their contact information and date of birth, they are placed in a queue for call backs. An individual will not directly speak with an operator until they receive a call back,” Bequer told the Chronicle in an email.
Stasko cautioned residents the return call to notify them of their appointment will come from a number they aren’t likely to recognize.
“The call will come an unknown number, most likely,” Stasko explained. “They also need to consider if they have any blocks on their phone, if you have a system like that, I can probably guess you’re not getting those calls. What do I know, the system works if you answer the call, you’re going to get an appointment.”
Stasko encourages those who do no register online to make sure they are answering unknown calls moving forward.
“I know that’s tough to sell our seniors; it’s tough,” she said. “With how this system works, they have to be able to answer the call.”
For Citrus County residents wanting to register with the FDOH online and not by telephone and need computer help, county library officials will help, said Veronica Kampschroer, Citrus County government spokeswoman.
You can contact your local library branch or visit the Citrus Libraries COVID-19 Vaccine Information page at www.citruslibraries.org/covid-19-vaccination-information.
For phone numbers, locations, and hours visit www.citruslibraries.org/locations.