News

Jan. 6 Commission COVID-19 Summary: Actions Being Taken to Improve Vaccination Appointment System

COVID-19 coronavirus Update No. 258

Hillsborough County, Fla. (Jan. 6, 2021) – Hillsborough County Commissioners today emphasized their commitment to seniors to provide COVID-19 coronavirus vaccinations as quickly as supplies are available. In the meantime, staff are already implementing changes to the appointment reservation process to provide better customer service and hold up to demand that far exceeds the amount of vaccine currently available.

During their regular meeting, Commissioners spoke candidly about problems with a vendor’s appointment system launched on Monday for this week’s first round of vaccine distribution to residents 65 years of age and older. While the 9,000 available appointments were booked by Tuesday afternoon, the amount of calls and attempts to reach the online portal quickly overwhelmed the system. Many people trying to make appointments either couldn’t reach the online portal or call center, or received conflicting directions.

Solutions are under way, Deputy County Administrator Greg Horwedel assured Commissioners. A different vendor will handle the appointment system. “On hold” capabilities will be expanded. Plans are being made to provide mobile vaccination sites in senior communities. The State of Florida plans to begin offering the vaccine at certain COVID-19 testing sites. The vaccination appointment and distribution process also will get smoother as supply and demand equalize, Horwedel said.

It’s estimated that there are approximately 206,000 residents in Hillsborough County who are 65 years of age or older. Commissioners expressed frustration that the County has no control over the supply of vaccine that is received from the State of Florida, particularly as the number of positive COVID-19 cases is rising dramatically. They urged residents to continue to take all necessary steps to protect themselves and others from contracting and spreading the virus.

In other news:

  • Commissioners asked to see a written plan for the vaccination program that includes goals, opportunities to partner with others to distribute the vaccine when more supplies are available, and strategies to keep residents updated.
  • A majority of Commissioners voted to request the County Attorney’s Office to draft language amending the current Face Covering Order to require that social distancing be practiced and face coverings be worn in any outdoor area where a bar or restaurant serves alcohol and/or food. They will consider the proposal at their Jan. 21 meeting.
  • Approved extending the state of local emergency enacted in response to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. When signed, the extension will be in effect at least through Jan. 14. A state of local emergency can be in effect for only seven days, unless extended. The emergency declaration gives the County Administrator and emergency managers the ability to quickly take certain actions to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of the community, and provides a path for federal reimbursement of certain expenses.

Commissioners will discuss the state of local emergency and other COVID-19 issues at their next regular meeting on Thursday, Jan. 21.

Face Coverings Mandate Remains in Effect
The mandate that face coverings must be worn in indoor locations of businesses, with certain exceptions, remains in effect. For more information, go to HCFLGov.net/facecoverings.

Get Connected. Stay Alert.
For more information on COVID-19, and any other potential emergency in the region, visit HCFLGov.net/StaySafe and sign up for the HCFL Alert system. Additionally, you can follow Hillsborough County on social media at Facebook, Twitter, and Nextdoor for updates. For general County information, call (813) 272-5900, the County's main information line.