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Seniors 65 and older can start getting COVID-19 vaccine Wednesday in Manatee, Sarasota counties

Manatee County leaders say the plan is to offer vaccinations for up to 300 seniors a day by appointment.

MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. — Manatee County Department of Health and Public Safety held a virtual press conference Tuesday to announce vaccination availability for seniors ages 65 and older.

The county was not expecting a shipment of COVID-19 vaccines until next week but received it early. Manatee County DOH received 3,500 doses of the Moderna Vaccine and has coordinated with county leaders on how it will be distributed to seniors. 

Dr. Jennifer Bencie, the health officer for Manatee DOH, says there are 100,000 people in Manatee County who meet the criteria to get these vaccines.

It was emphasized in the media briefing that you do not have to be a local resident to receive the vaccine in Manatee County. However, you do have to prove your age.

Starting Wednesday, Dec. 30, the first drive-thru vaccination site for seniors 65 and older will be open at the Manatee County Public Safety Building in Bradenton. 

The vaccination site will open back up again on Thursday, Dec. 31. 

The plan is to offer vaccinations for up to 300 seniors a day by appointment. Then, here's what you will need to bring on the day of your appointment: the completed consent form, registration ticket and a valid ID.

Appointments can be booked online here. 

If you do not have access to a computer, you can call the Department of Health and they will log on and book an appointment on your behalf.

Registration opened at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 29, and all appointment times were filled in less than an hour. County officials say the distribution site will be moved to a larger location on Friday, New Year’s Day.

Chief of Emergency Management Steve Litschauer says it will be at Bennett Park in Bradenton in order to vaccinate a higher volume of people.

“The goal is at least 500 a day, but that all depends on traffic flow,” Litschauer said.

Appointment times have been posted online for you to book at the Bennett Park location from Friday, Jan. 1, through Monday, Jan. 4.

RELATED: 'We're going where the risk is greatest': Gov. DeSantis signs executive order giving seniors 65+ priority for COVID vaccinations

Some people from the community voiced their frustration with the online system to book an appointment. Many said they can’t get on the website.

County officials say their site is receiving a lot of traffic and ask that you be patient.

The rescheduling for a second dose of the vaccine will happen after the first visit. County leaders say people will receive a card that lets them schedule their next dose through them. 

For the Moderna, it's a 28-day turnaround. It's important to note that you must get two doses of the same type of vaccine. 

RELATED: Here's the difference between the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines

Bencie says the more doses of the vaccine they use, the more they will receive. As far as an exact number, that’s something she says they don’t know.

Additional locations will be announced when more vaccines and vaccinators become available.

The Department of Health in Sarasota County will begin offering vaccinations to seniors age 65 and older by appointment only beginning Wednesday, Dec. 30.
Sarasota County residence is not required, but snowbirds must remain in Sarasota County for their second-round (28 days after the first appointment). 

As of Wednesday morning, all appointment times in Sarasota County were filled.

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