Florida launches statewide vaccine appointment hotline

Florida's Division of Emergency Management soft-launched a new statewide appointment hotline this week.

There’s no website yet, but there are three different mass vaccination sites across the state, each with its own number to call and try to book an appointment.

A new vaccination site opened Thursday at the University Mall in Tampa. Appointments at the site are now handled by the state Division of Emergency Management. It’s one of three new vaccination sites operating this way. The others are in Jacksonville and Miami. So what about Orlando?

"It is my understanding that the state wants to get it right so they are rolling it out first with some south Florida counties initially before it becomes available to all 67 counties," said Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings.  

The sites are still testing out the new statewide appointment database. Right now there’s no website, but there are phone numbers for each location. Call for an automated message, and then wait for a return call from a person, who will help schedule your appointment.

The Tampa location vaccinated 1,400 people Thursday. Orange County is willing to wait before switching to a new appointment system.

"It’s working very well for us so before we jump into anything new, we would like other people to work the kinks," said Dr. Raul Pino from the Florida Department of Health in Orange County.

Orange County is even looking into another online appointment scheduling option called Q Flow as a backup.

"We are also acquiring that technology in case that these two do not work for whatever reason. Other counties will go through the same headaches and pain that we went through at the beginning so we don’t want to do it twice."

There’s no word on how soon Orange County will get on board with the state hotline.

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