TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Long lines, frustration and disappointment are growing at a state-run coronavirus vaccination location in Hillsborough County.
Traffic backed up on to Fowler Avenue in Tampa on Thursday as people tried to get into the state-run vaccine location at University Mall. Dozens of people who showed up for their second dose of the vaccine were being turned away from the location.
Bette Warter of Plant City got her first dose of the vaccine at the University Mall location on Jan. 21. She has a vaccine card proving when and where she got the shot.
“On the back of the card, it had February 11 to come back,” Warter explained.
But when she arrived Thursday morning, a man in uniform turned her away.
“When they came to us, we told them it was the second shot and he said you can’t just come over. I said, ‘but here is the card and they said [to] come back this day,'” said Warter.
Like hundreds of other people, it took hours for Warter to get her first appointment for the vaccine. She was advised at that time she only had to show up on the date noted on her vaccine card to get her second dose.
“There were hundreds of people who came … and all of them are going to be turned away,” said Warter.
When people arrived for their second dose at the University Mall on Thursday, they were turned away if they did not have an appointment. This had not been the policy previously, however.
A spokesperson for the Hillsborough County Department of Health apologized for the confusion but said they are working to streamline the process for all.
Communications from Hillsborough County previously advised, “even if a resident does not get a call, text or email confirming the second shot, they should still return to their vaccine site 21 days from the date of their initial shot to get their second dose.”
A spokesperson for Hillsborough County says that policy was only in place for county-run vaccination locations and not the locations run by the state.
The Florida Department of Health now says everyone who wants to get a second dose of the vaccine must register to get an appointment online. After you register, health officials say you will get a call or email back within 48 hours to confirm your second dose.
Warter is now concerned she won’t be able to get an appointment in time for her second dose of the vaccine to be effective.
“So many, many people are going to be without the second shot,” said Warter.
8 On Your Side is asking for the state’s explanation of the situation and what they plan to do to administer the second dose for people like Warter who received their first dose from the county.