TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – When Barry Fitzgerald drove to the Larry Sanders Sports Complex near Progress Village on Monday to get the COVID-19 vaccine he was expecting to see a long line in front of him.
“Today was the first day of being eligible, so [I] took advantage. I called up the website this morning and they said there was a place over here, basically, drive up, walk up, roll in,” said Fitzgerald.
Like many others, he became eligible to receive his vaccine Monday now that Florida has expanded the age limit to anyone 50 and above.
David Cavanaugh and his wife also received their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine at the Larry Sanders Sports Complex.
“Whatever our expectations were in terms of having to wait, it exceeded them. It was so far, pretty smooth and pretty easy,” said Cavanaugh, who says he’s relieved to have the vaccine.
“It’s been mentally draining, physically draining. We are an immediate family of five. Two of our three children have gotten COVID. We’ve got parents we really haven’t seen or hung out with or traveled with. Similar stories that everyone else is facing,” said Cavanaugh.
The site at the sports complex is one of several rotating remote locations run by FEMA.
The remote locations and the main FEMA site at the Tampa Greyhound track had planned to transition to second dose-only sites on Wednesday.
Monday afternoon, however, the Florida Division of Emergency Management announced they would still provide FEMA locations up to 500 first dose vaccines per day. This is down significantly from their original allotment, but people like Anthony Kind say the FEMA locations have several advantages.
“I think that having them be drive-up sites, not having to go to a website and register and wait for weeks definitely is a huge improvement,” said Kind.
FEMA is reminding anyone going to their location for a second dose will need documentation of their first dose.
“Just a couple of reminders for everybody: if you are coming for your second dose, please make sure you bring your CDC card that tells your information about your first dose, bring your I.D. So we can verify who you are,” said FEMA site director, Carole Covey.
Anyone wanting their first dose of the vaccine can go to myvaccine.fl.gov and make an appointment as long as they are in an approved category by the State of Florida to be eligible for the vaccine.