“Having our own enrollment process gives us more flexibility to adapt to what works best for our residents."By Andrea Alvarez

MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) – COVID-19 Vaccination guidelines for the state of Florida have changed this week, making more Floridians eligible. But while the standby pool has expanded, some counties are deciding to stick with their own way of making appointments.

Back in January, Florida was the first state in the nation to prioritize the vaccination of seniors against COVID-19 and was among the first to administer over a million shots, but not without a few hiccups along the way.

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Since then, everything from social gathering mandates to eligibility requirements has been readjusted to fit two different populations those vaccinated versus those who haven’t had the shot.

As of Monday and per Governor DeSantis’ most recent executive order, eligibility requirements allow more Floridians to get vaccinated.

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You can now schedule your appointment if you’re 60 years of age and older, if your physician declares you extremely vulnerable, if you are a K-12 school employee 50 years and old, and the same age for law enforcement officers and firefighters.

In an effort to streamline that painstaking process of making an appointment, Florida launched a statewide registration system back in January.

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On March 3RD, Governor DeSantis stopped by a vaccination site in Pasco County to talk about online registration across the state. “It’s easier to get online now because, you know, we had millions of people trying to get these spots. Well, now you have millions of folks that have already gotten appointments and gotten shots. So, it’s not like, if you’re not online in three minutes, they’re all taken now, which is good,” he said to reporters.

But places like Manatee County have decided to bypass the statewide registration system and continue using their own current enrollment process.

In a statement to CW44 News Tuesday, county officials with the Public Safety Department there say, “We believe that having our own enrollment and scheduling process gives us more flexibility to adapt to what works best for our residents. We will continue to use our current system and work expeditiously to vaccinate those who are registered in our standby pool.”

And in sticking with their original process, Manatee County commissioners have a tunnel vision focus on the goal, keeping a close watch on vaccinations impacting not only their local area, but outside of the county, too.

“State of Florida unemployment rate is at 4.8 percent!  The national is 6.8 percent. So, we are definitely getting more and more Floridians working again and that is so exciting,” said Vanessa Baugh, Manatee County Commission Chair.

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Keep in mind, local Manatee County seniors who have enrolled with the local registration system do not need to enroll in the new state system.