TAMPA, Fla. — One of the Tampa Bay area's most well-known COVID testing sites is literally switching places with one of the major vaccination sites. So, if you're looking for one or the other, double-check where you're going first.
The state-supported vaccination location at University Mall is permanently moving to Raymond James Stadium Lot 14 on March 1, and the COVID testing site that had been at the Bucs' home is moving over to the mall on March 2.
The switch comes after frustrating long lines, traffic congestion and massive wait times caused headaches for seniors trying to get inoculated at University Mall.
Since the University Mall site initially opened, it has struggled to keep operations running smoothly. There was often confusion over appointment times and procedures, and many seniors who hoped to get vaccinated were turned away.
“We started noticing that the line was just wrapped all the way around the complex,” said John Wright, who hoped to get vaccinated earlier this month. “We just went out the back of that parking lot and…went home. If this is what it takes to get us to get inoculated, I'll just do without.”
Wright said he was eventually able to get his first vaccine dose through Publix but had hoped the state would overhaul its vaccine rollout process to prevent the confusion and aggravation he experienced at the University Mall site.
“They totally dropped the ball on this,” Wright said.
Now, it seems, leaders are doing just that.
“We want to make sure that…no one has to wait for an extended period of time,” said Samantha Bequer, press secretary for the Florida Division of Emergency Management.
Organizers hope moving the vaccination spot to Raymond James Stadium will allow for up to 3,200 individuals per day to be inoculated, while the testing site moving to a smaller location eliminates logistical issues.
Vaccinations will not happen at University Mall on Feb. 28 while crews are moving equipment to the stadium to begin service there on March 1.
"Individuals who have scheduled first or second dose vaccine appointments do not need to take any additional action. All individuals with vaccine or testing appointments at these locations will have their appointments honored at the new location," the county wrote in a release.
There will be no changes to each site's hours of operation.
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