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Seniors wait in miles-long lines to get COVID-19 vaccine

Frustrated Floridians say the problem is caused by a "lack of organization".

TAMPA, Fla — Frustrated Floridians say a lack of organization led to long lines for a COVID-19 vaccine Thursday at University Mall in Tampa. Leaders with the Hillsborough County Health Department say a "perfect storm" caused the situation.

Feb. 11 was the first time the University Mall site was giving out both first and second doses of the vaccine. But some people without an appointment for their second dose showed up anyway because of information on their vaccine card.

RELATED: Stop posting pictures of your COVID-19 vaccine card on social media, BBB warns

"Individuals after they received their first dose of vaccine, they got a vaccination card that said '21 days later you are to come back for your second dose,'" Kevin Water with the Hillsborough County Health Department explained. "Now what people don’t understand, or didn’t understand, if that you also have to go to the state website and say 'I am ready for my second vaccine.' Then they will be contacted to be able to get vaccinated."

Some people who were in line said they had scheduled an appointment for a specific time but still weren't able to get through the traffic for their shot.

"We didn’t do a very good job of letting people know, and for that, we apologize," Water said.

A county representative sent 10 Tampa Bay a statement Thursday afternoon about changes to the vaccine clinic's hours to accommodate the rush:

"Normally they would stay open until 4:00 p.m. It's likely going to go longer than that today, but there's no way to know how long," says Michelle Van Dyke, a spokesperson for Hillsborough County.

RELATED: County-by-county COVID-19 vaccine information for Tampa Bay seniors

RELATED: Florida has new statewide vaccine sign-up system, so why aren't counties using it?

There are other vaccine sites available. County leaders suggest using the state website to register to be alerted when new appointments are available in your area. You can also try getting a spot at a local Walmart, Winn Dixie or Publix Pharmacy.

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