PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Florida now has a statewide COVID-19 vaccination registration system, but we have discovered several counties across Tampa Bay are refusing to use it.

People want to know if they should be turning to their county or the state to sign up for the vaccine. If they don’t sign up with the state, will they lose their chance?

The Florida Department of Health’s new COVID-19 vaccine pre-registration system is up and running. It now allows health care workers, seniors and individuals deemed extremely vulnerable to COVID-19 to sign up.

A qualifying Floridian can call by phone or visit and their place in line will be reserved through software called Sharecare.

It is left up to the counties to decide whether they want to merge with the new state system or continue on their own. 8 On Your Side has learned the following 5 Tampa Bay area counties have opted into the state’s system: Citrus, Hardee, Highlands, Pasco, and Hillsborough. The following 5 counties have opted out of the state’s system: Hernando, Manatee, Pinellas, Polk, and Sarasota.

“My question would be why did we opt out? What is the logic behind opting out?” Pinellas resident Ken Goergen wondered.

Pinellas County tells 8 On Your Side they have not entirely refused to use the state’s system. Rather, they have another system that was previously in place and they’re working with the state on how both technologies will work together in the future. The county’s system handles the pre-registration as well as all of the entire infrastructure at vaccine sites for processing the vaccine paperwork and sending vaccination data to the state. They currently have over 60,000 people who pre-registered in their system.

Stuck at home for months now, the Goergens wanted the vaccine and were not happy how Pinellas County was running their system. They were unsure whether or not to give the state’s system a try, then finally got an appointment for the vaccine in Pasco County.

“We finally got to be able to set the appointment up yesterday, so the shot is this coming Friday,” said Ken.

“It’s going to be about an hour and 20-minute drive for us,” said his wife Helene.

If your county has a system in place and decides to use the statewide system, the state will work with them to merge existing wait lists. The statewide pre-registration system is available to all Floridians, regardless of county, but it’s up to you on what you want to use. You’ll be contacted when the vaccine is available in your area.

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