Complaints about difficulties in registering for COVID-19 vaccine appointments in Pasco and Hillsborough counties have resulted in changes to those systems, but demand for vaccinations continues to outpace the supply of available vaccines.
Both Pasco and Hillsborough now are using the same registration system for vaccines.
Anyone age 65 and older who needs the COVID-19 vaccination must go to PatientPortalFl.com or call 844-770-8548 to create an account with CDR Maguire: Health & Medical (CDR Maguire).
An account with CDR Maguire is required to register for a vaccination appointment.
Those who have created an account with CDR Maguire must log into the patient portal to register for an appointment.
Pasco’s health department announced that it would hold four vaccination clinics this week. Registrations for the clinics began on Jan. 17. Appointments are mandatory to receive a COVID-19 vaccination.
The health department planned to provide 400 vaccinations on Jan. 19 and 400 on Jan. 21, 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., at Sears Auto Center in the Gulfview Square Mall, 9409 U.S. 19 in Port Richey.
There also will be 500 appointments on Jan. 20 and 500 on Jan. 22, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., at Saint Leo University, 33710 State Road 52 in St. Leo.
Those receiving the vaccinations should be sure to have a photo ID, when checking in for your vaccination appointment. If using the online patient portal, be sure to bring a printed or digital copy of the confirmation email you receive, containing the QR code.
Both Hillsborough and Pasco counties continue to have a fundamental issue with vaccine supply.
On the Hillsborough website, a health department note says: “Please understand that the vaccine is not widely available in Hillsborough County at this time and the distribution plans depend on vaccine supplies. Supplies are provided by the federal government and distributed to the states, which then allocate them to counties.”
Pasco County Commission members expressed frustrations about the vaccine supply problem at their Jan. 12 meeting.
Commissioner Mike Moore raised the issue, noting that Pasco’s health department was supposed to receive 3,500 doses on a particular day.
“They received zero, as we all know,” Moore said to his colleagues.
“Our current population, we’re guesstimating, is 560,000 — I’m sure when the census comes out it will be closer to 600,000,” Moore said.
About a third of Pasco’s population is over the age of 65, he added.
If the county was to get 1,800 vaccines a week, it would take about 7 ½ years to vaccinate the population in Pasco County. At 3,500, it would take 3 ½ years to vaccinate the population of Pasco County, he said.
Moore said he’d been working on the problem with Dan Biles, county administrator; Andy Fossa, county director of emergency management; and Mike Napier, public health officer for the Department of Health — Pasco County.
Moore then reached out to Jared Moskowitz, director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management.
“I was able to get him to send at least 1,000,” Moore said. “While I do appreciate that, that’s not enough.”
Moore said he and Commission Chairman Ron Oakley reached out to State Sen. Danny Burgess, and Burgess was able to secure another 500 vaccines.
“So, we ended up with 1,500 this week,” said Moore, who also expressed gratitude to Senate President Wilton Simpson and Rep. Randy Maggard, for their efforts.
But, Moore expressed his continued frustration about Pasco’s inability to get adequate vaccines.
“Every one of us (county commissioners) are getting the calls and the emails from our constituents. I know that each and every one of you, as well as I do, wish we could do more for them. Unfortunately, right now, the only thing that we can do is ask and beg. I really feel like I was begging yesterday, on behalf of our citizens. We need more vaccines in Pasco County,” Moore said.
Administrator Biles said “to be honest, the entire region is being shorted.”
“At the rate we’re getting it, it’s six-plus months, just to get the over-65 community,” Biles said.
Commissioner Kathryn Starkey said “I’m trying to figure out why we’re getting shorted.”
She suggested sending a letter to the governor and state emergency management director, urging that “vaccines be distributed per capita, in a fair and uniform manner.”
The letter also should go to Senate President Simpson and Speaker of the House Chris Sprowls, Starkey suggested.
“Let’s get that letter off immediately and get our fair share,” she said.
Commissioner Jack Mariano weighed in: “I think we need to get a federal letter, too.”
Commissioners agreed with Starkey and Mariano’s suggestions, and approved separate motions to send both letters.
For more information on signing up for a vaccination and about the availability of appointments, visit the Pasco health department websites at Pasco.floridahealth.gov and the Hillsborough health department website at Hillsborough.floridahealth.gov.
Vaccines in Florida
Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an executive order that outlines that providers can only administer COVID-19 vaccines to these groups:
- Health care facility residents and staff
- Those age 65 and older
- Health care personnel with direct patient contact
- Persons deemed to be extremely vulnerable to COVID-19 by hospital providers
Keep wearing your mask
Even if you’ve had two vaccinations, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says there’s not enough information yet to say when it will stop recommending people to wear masks and to avoid close contact with others to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
While experts learn more, they recommend that people continue to:
- Wear a mask over your nose and mouth
- Stay at least 6 feet away from others
- Avoid crowds
- Avoid poorly ventilated spaces
- Wash your hands often
Published January 20, 2021