By Casey Albritton

MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) – Manatee County Health Officials began administering the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to people 65 and older on Tuesday.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed an executive order just before Christmas to prioritize Florida seniors over the age of 65 to receive COVID-19 vaccines. Making good on that order, registration opened Monday in Manatee County to receive the vaccine and the first doses were given Tuesday at the Manatee County Public Safety Center.

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At the time, Manatee County officials made 3,500 vaccines available for people 65 and older, and the goal is to vaccinate 300 people a day starting this Tuesday. “There would be no holiday break for the vaccination team,” said Manatee County employee, Nicholas Azzara.

Manatee County Health Officials are working around the clock to make sure the plan to give vaccines to people 65 and older runs smoothly. “Those plans are coming together minute by minute,” said Azzara.

Emergency Medical Services Chief with Manatee County, James Crutchfield, says there’s about 100,000 people over the age of 65 in Manatee County. “The vaccine allotment that we currently have will not be able to provide vaccines for everyone,” said Crutchfield, adding once that the state plans to send more once the local vaccine supply dips to about 500. “We will continue to provide vaccines every day until we have none.”

With an initial quantity of only 3,500 vaccines and high demand, it’s creating issues for residents trying to register online. “It keeps coming up as unavailable, event unavailable and then it’s coming up as sold out sold out,” said one Manatee County resident.

Another Manatee County resident also voiced their frustration, saying, “I have two iPads on and a laptop and we can’t get through, and we have underlying medical conditions. That is really frightening us.”

Manatee County Officials say within the first 30 minutes of the registration website opening on Tuesday, 500 people signed up. If people are having issues with registration, they should continue refreshing the webpage or call the Manatee County Public Information Office.

A Facebook post was made Tuesday afternoon on the Manatee County Government page notifying residents all slots have been filled through January 4. While it’s not possible at this time, Crutchfield reminds those still waiting for their turn with the vaccination, “If people can be patient with us, there will be a slot available to them.” Manatee County Government will announce additional dates and locations for appointments on Monday, January 4th at 2:00pm.

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