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Majority of seniors in Manatee Co. vaccine waiting pool are local, short supply continues to be challenge

Coronavirus

MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – After launching its COVID-19 vaccine waiting pool last Thursday, tens of thousands of seniors have signed up.

The call center at Manatee County’s Public Safety Center has remained busy. On Monday, there were nearly 30 people answering phones. The wait time remained at less than one minute.

The latest data from Manatee County shows more than 53,000 registration forms have been submitted online and over the phone with more than 85,000 seniors now in the waiting pool.

The drive thru vaccine site at Bennett Park was closed Monday. The county used its last 500 doses Friday afternoon. Officials tell 8 On Your Side they are expecting a new shipment from the state this week. They hope to keep the turnaround time moving quickly.

“That is still our number one goal as we continue to get more doses in from the state, we like to start scheduling those right away and start putting them in arms in less than 48 hours later,” said Manatee County Public Safety Director Jacob Saur.

Saur says if the supply chain ramps up, the county could easily vaccinate 1000 people a day. The goal is to eventually ramp up to 2000 people a day, but at the moment, gaps in supply from the state is slowing the process of getting shots into arms.

Manatee County says it vaccinated nearly 5,500 hundred people over an 11 day period. At that rate, it would take until July to vaccinate the more than 85,000 seniors waiting in the vaccine pool.

With no residency requirement to get a COVID-19 vaccine in Florida, some have expressed concerns about visitors taking doses away from locals.

Here is a breakdown of everyone registered so far, based off Manatee County data collected during registration:

  • Bradenton – 63%
  • Sarasota – 9%
  • Palmetto – 8%
  • Parrish – 6%
  • Longboat Key – 5%
  • Cortez – 1%
  • Other – 8%

The average age of seniors registering for a COVID-19 vaccine in Manatee County is 73. Officials continue to ask for the public’s patience.

“There is a strong strong strong demand for these vaccines. We understand that completely and it is just going to take patience as the state get us more vaccine,” said Saur.

Manatee County will continue its effort to pre-register seniors ages 65 and older for the new standby pool which serves as a list for individuals wanting to be vaccinated. Seniors ages 65 and older can register for the waiting list online at vax.mymanatee.org anytime of day. Seniors may also book an appointment by calling 311 weekdays from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. The registration pool is open-ended, so there is no deadline to join the pool. 

Whenever a new shipment of vaccines arrives, the same number of names will be pulled through randomized selection. 311 reps will use those names to call pre-registered seniors and book an appointment. Seniors should look for a call from (941) 742-4300. If they miss the first call, 311 callers will try once more later. If there’s no answer after two attempts, the caller’s name will be placed back in the standby pool to make room for another person for an appointment. There is no need to call or register a second time. 

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