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Posted January 19, 2021 | 7:49 AM

Joint Outreach Delivers COVID-19 Vaccine to Senior Apartments, Independent Living Facilities

Aggressive effort supplements drive-through sites throughout Hillsborough County

Hillsborough County residents in seniors' apartments and independent living facilities are receiving free COVID-19 vaccinations where they live.

In mid-January, County government departments, the Florida Department of Health in Hillsborough County, and the University of South Florida College of Nursing began identifying, delivering, and administering the shots. The team hopes to reach full- and part-time residents age 65 and older who might have trouble getting to one of the drive-through sites where injections are administered at no cost.

So far, the County's Office of Emergency Management has identified about 350 such housing complexes. On Jan. 14 and 15, dozens of seniors at the first complexes selected for the mobile vaccination clinics received shots.

The mobile vaccination team administered a first round of shots to seniors at King's Manor and San Lorenzo Terrace apartments in Tampa. They will receive needed second vaccines in early February. The locations were chosen partly because they are comparatively small, enabling the team to fine-tune its procedures. Both apartment complexes are for seniors with fixed or limited incomes, and they accept some government subsidies.

"I'm grateful that we have this opportunity," says Bobby Rillera, 72, who has lived at San Lorenzo Terrace since November. His doctor encouraged him to get the shots. "I'm very conscious of my health," Bobby says. "I take all precautions."

Vaccinations distributed locally by the mobile team are not among those allocated to Hillsborough County for distribution at its drive-through sites.

Hillsborough County Aging Services has senior adult dining and activity centers at King's Manor and San Lorenzo Terrace. Familiarity with the complexes and the seniors who live and visit there helped Aging Services conclude that most people would welcome COVID-19 vaccinations. Aging Services also helped set up community rooms within the complexes for administering the shots.

The Office of Emergency Management, meanwhile, culled through state registries and checked with local officials to pinpoint the 350 or so senior apartments and assisted living facilities in the county. It's looking for more, focusing on areas where lots of seniors live.

Since vaccinations began in early January, Hillsborough County and Florida Department of Health officials have vaccinated thousands of residents age 65 and older at the drive-through sites. Learn more about the shots and how to register to get them.

Photo: Nurses assigned to give COVID-19 vaccine shots discuss their mission at King's Manor apartments.

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