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Pinellas County to begin COVID-19 vaccine distribution to residents 65+

Pinellas County

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – The Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County announced its plan to provide the COVID-19 vaccine to residents 65 and older.

Health officials say starting Monday, Jan. 4, residents will be able to reserve an appointment via phone or email for a vaccination. The distribution of vaccines will begin Tuesday, Jan. 5.

According to Tom Iovino with the Florida Health Department in Pinellas County, they hope to distribute thousands of vaccines from at least three different locations, but they are still working out details of where those locations will be.

Iovino said county officials will release details of what the e-mail and phone number are to call and make appointments within the coming days.

He stressed the importance of wanting to distribute the vaccine in an organized fashion.

“We realize we are falling behind some of our sister counties, but we want to make sure, given the number of people who are in Pinellas, that we can do this in an orderly fashion where we can guarantee there is a vaccine waiting for you when you go to your location,” Iovino said.

According to a recent census, Pinellas County is the most densely populated county within the state, with about a million residents. Around 250,000 residents meet the 65+ criteria.

Iovino said they do expect the phone lines and e-mail server to be busy Monday.

“Given the amount of demand for the vaccine, there will be a lot of congestion on the phones, there will be a lot of people attempting to make reservations online. We understand there will be very few vaccines compared to the population of Pinellas County available. There will be situations, we believe, where we will run out of vaccine reservations,” said Iovino.

“As we get more in, we’ll reopen the vaccine program to get more people registered. We’ll be working as quickly as possible to do this safely and make sure we can reach as many people as possible,” he said.

Pinellas was among the first two counties in the state to provide vaccines to those in skilled nursing facilities.

Pinellas County health officials say it reached the county’s 68 skilled nursing facilities within five days of the arrival of the Pfizer vaccine, allowing 6,700 staff and residents to be immunized.

Additionally, the county provided vaccines to EMS, fire rescue, and other healthcare personnel.

More than 12,300 people have been vaccinated in the county to date.

For the latest information, visit the Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County’s website.

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