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Hillsborough County brings vaccines to those 65 and older in targeted vaccine area initiative

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fl.– — Getting vaccines in arms is taking on another form in Hillsborough County with the launch of a new initiative.

The targeted vaccine area initiative started Thursday. The program brings the COVID19 vaccine to senior homes and independent living communities for those 65 and older.

“We look at populations with a high amount of those who are 65 plus that we know are not gonna necessarily be able to get to a public site,” said Kevin Watler, a PIO for the Florida Department of Health in Hillsborough County.

The initiative is a collaborative effort between the DOH, USF College of Public Nursing, Hillsborough County Office of Emergency Management and Department of Aging Services.

Three facilities have received vaccines so far. The county says 350 locations have been identified, with the list expected to grow. They’re identified using the state registry and Department of Aging Services.

Reaching them depends on the supply available.

“There’s no secret about it. There’s not enough vaccine for everyone who wants to be vaccinated. But what we want to do is make sure it’s getting to those vulnerable individuals as well as make sure the public also has an ability to get the vaccine,” said Watler. “So again the majority of the vaccine does go to the public sites and then we set aside a smaller percentage that goes directly to those vulnerable communities we’re working very closely with.”

The Florida Division of Emergency Management said counties are developing their own plans on ways to vaccinate those who may be homebound or without access to transportation.

“Each county has their own set of unique needs and is developing plans to address the best way to serve homebound populations in their communities,” a spokesperson stated.

The spokesperson said the State Emergency Response Team is ready to provide support to counties through vaccination strike teams if requested by the county.

The agency also said the pilot program in which the Governor directed them to identify places of worship and other locations in underserved communities to administer the vaccine is expected to expand as more vaccine is received.

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