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Hillsborough County fires outside vendor it hired for COVID-19 vaccine rollout

Hillsborough County

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – The outside vendor Hillsborough County hired to launch its coronavirus vaccine rollout was fired Wednesday, county officials said.

Hillsborough Commissioner Stacy White confirmed to 8 On Your Side that OnSite Safe will no longer run the call center and registration website that went live this week. Hillsborough County paid OnSite Safe $230,000 to set up the vaccine registration process.

The firing comes after the county’s vaccine rollout got off to a rough start as seniors rushed to get vaccinated, overwhelming the county’s registration website and phone lines. After service disruptions on Monday, Hillsborough County temporarily discontinued its online registration site and told residents to make appointments by phone.

The county continued to experience an overwhelming demand for the vaccine, which officials say exceeded OnSite Safe’s technological capacity to handle the influx.

“We chose this vendor because they told us they could handle a very large diverse project,” Hillsborough County Director of Emergency Management Timothy Dudley said Tuesday. “We’re not pleased with the outcome at this point.”

8 On Your Side Investigative Reporter Mahsa Saeidi confirmed with Hillsborough County officials on Wednesday that OnSite Safe ran all four of the county’s vaccination sites and staff hiring. We’re working to find out from the county if the vendor has been relieved of these duties as well.

We learned Tuesday that OnSite Safe hired a third-party vendor to run the registration website. Dudley says the county wasn’t aware that was going to happen.

“We definitely want an overall summary of what happened,” Dudley told us. “Since yesterday, we’ve been troubleshooting and looking at different options to see how we can offer a better experience moving forward.”

A spokesperson for OnSite Safe released the following statement Tuesday:

“Technology issues are plaguing counties statewide during this coronavirus vaccine rollout. We prepared for the massive response but unfortunately, our system was also overwhelmed by the demand. We have worked hard to remedy the issues and have filled all of the 9,000 available appointments. We understand the frustration and truly apologize.”

8 On Your Side is working to learn the name of the new vendor hired by Hillsborough County.

This is a breaking news story. Please check back for the latest updates.

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