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Tampa FEMA Vaccine Site Not Overwhelmed By Expanded Eligibility

 People stand in line at the Tampa Greyhound Track in early March for their COVID-19 vaccine.
People stand in line at the Tampa Greyhound Track in early March for their COVID-19 vaccine.

FEMA had planned to distribute only second doses at its vaccine sites between March 24 and April 7. Now, it'll also distribute 500 first-dose Pfizer shots each day.

COVID-19 vaccine eligibility in Florida was expanded to people 50 and older on Monday, but the additional demand didn't appear to overwhelm one of the Tampa area's busiest sites.

Tampa Greyhound Track is equipped to give out 2,000 doses a day of the COVID-19 vaccine and recently there had been leftovers as fewer people sought vaccinations.

State officials expanded vaccine eligibility to increase demand and reach more people.

Census figures show, there are about 187,500 people in Hillsborough County in their 50s.

But a FEMA official said the increased demand on Monday had been manageable.

"Normally, we have a morning rush, and then it kind of clears out after that,” FEMA spokeswoman Carole Covey. “We've continued to be consistently busy all day. We were expecting it and ready for it. So there's not been any extended wait times or anything throughout the day."

FEMA had planned to distribute only second doses at the site between March 24 and April 7. Now, it'll distribute 500 first-dose Pfizer shots each day, as well. The same change will apply to the FEMA-supported sites in Miami, Orlando and Jacksonville.

Satellite sites and other hubs will continue only administering second dose shots between March 24 and April 14. All satellite sites will return to their original locations over the next three weeks so individuals who received their first dose at these sites can receive their second doses.

For the last two weeks of operations, April 14–28, the state is planning to offer the one dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

The federally supported vaccination sites were designed to remain in their communities for eight weeks, but the state is working with the federal government to evaluate if these sites can remain open past April 28.

All state-supported vaccination sites and their hours of operations are available at

People getting their second dose of the Pfizer vaccine should bring the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention appointment card they were given at their first dose to expedite the process, Covey said.

In addition to this new age group, others eligible for a vaccine include:

  • Health care personnel with direct patient contact
  • Pre-K through Grade 12 school employees (public, private, and charter)
  • Persons deemed medically vulnerable by a physician. These individuals must bring the COVID-19 Determination of Extreme Vulnerability form, completed and signed by a physician.

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Daylina Miller is a multimedia reporter for WUSF and Health News Florida, covering health in the Tampa Bay area and across the state.