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Pinellas vaccine reservations: What went wrong?


PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Herbert Smithson has just one question: What went wrong?

The 80-year old Army veteran has already received his first COVID-19 vaccine from the VA but spent hours on the phone trying to get his 77-year old girlfriend one.

“I waited, I waited and then I waited some more,” said Smithson. “At around 10-o’clock, they hung up. They just hung up. I said what the hell, I got disconnected. Now I gotta call back!”

Smithson’s girlfriend never got that appointment.

8 On Your Side reached out to the Florida Department of Health Pinellas to get some answers.

Department spokesman Tom Iovino explains, there are 250,000 residents in Pinellas County over the age of 65 and the department only had 3,000 doses of the vaccine to distribute leaving the system simply overwhelmed.

“Our registration system failed to work as we expected it,” said Iovino. “Both our online registration system and phones were down. “

To make sure this doesn’t happen the next time the county receives vaccine doses, the department is now evaluating its computer system.

“We had to pull our on line system off line,” said Iovino. “So we could better develop it. “

Other viewers are contacting 8 on Your Side concerned about receiving the second shot. If its so difficult to get an appointment for a first dose of the vaccine, what if you can’t get an appointment for the second? Iovino explains, that shouldn’t be an issue.

“What will happen is you’ll have an appointment, just like you will for your first shot,” Iovino explained. “What you’ll have to do is show up at that point to get your second dose of vaccine.”

Smithson isn’t convinced. He’s confident he’ll be able to get his second dose from the VA, but if his girlfriend receives her first dose he believes there may be issues getting her a follow up appointment. “The way things are going,” said Smithson. “Yes, yes.”

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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