Is Hillsborough County ready to distribute second round of coronavirus vaccine doses?

8 On Your Side

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Thousands of additional doses of the COVID-19 vaccine will soon be in Hillsborough County. After a chaotic rollout of the first batch of doses this week, the question now is, is the county ready for round two?

For two days in a row, Florida has reported nearly 20,000 new coronavirus cases. These are the highest numbers since the start of the pandemic. Many seniors are scared and want protection now.

“I’m wearing double masks and I’m afraid to go anywhere really,” Hillsborough County resident Charles Sutnick, 76, said.

Sutnick wants the coronavirus vaccine because, for him, the connection with a great-grandchild is a bond unlike any other.

“When he was born, a relative said to me, ‘that’s the cherry on top of the icing on the cake’…and it is,” said Sutnick. “I haven’t been able to hold him.”

Like thousands of other seniors this week, Sutnick couldn’t register for the shot. Hillsborough’s systems failed. 

Now, with at least 9,000 more doses coming, Sutnick wants to know the county’s plan for round two.

“I don’t have any confidence that it’s going to be any better,” said Sutnick.

All week, 8 On Your Side has been working to get you answers.

The county said it fired OnSite Safe, the vendor in charge of registrations. But 8 On Your Side discovered that company was also hired to run all of the county’s vaccination sites, and eventually the test sites too.

County documents show in the deal, OnSite would get more than $13 million over a six-month period.

But on Friday Hillsborough County said, for now, it’s not working with OnSite in any way.

It’s unclear how much the county owes the vendor. But Hillsborough Commissioner Stacy White wants to keep all of that taxpayer cash.

“I’d be shocked if we don’t have the proper provisions in that contract to seek a refund, essentially,” Commissioner White said.

Sutnick will be on the hunt for the potentially life-saving shot again on Monday.

“It’s sad. I’m 76 years old, I’ve lost almost a year now of being with my family. It’s almost a year,” he said.

It’s unclear if seniors will have to make appointments online or by phone next week. We don’t know yet who will be running the sites. Hillsborough County officials said they’re still figuring it out.

Are you having trouble signing up to get a coronavirus vaccine in the Tampa Bay area?
Fill out our 8 On Your Side form to report the problems you’re having.

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