"We’re starting to see that there aren’t a lot of 60-64-year-olds signing up.”By Andrea Alvarez

MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) – Manatee County is working to get ahead of any vaccination hold ups. If you’re 55 and older, live in Manatee County, and plan to get the COVID-19 vaccine, you’re officially eligible to enroll yourself in preparation.

CW44 News At 10

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“They will not be able to receive the vaccine yet until Governor DeSantis lowers the age range but we want to get ahead of the game,” said Chloe Conboy, a spokesperson for  the Manatee County Public Safety Dept.

Just one day after Governor DeSantis hinted at lowering the age eligibility from a Palm Harbor press conference, Manatee County officials announced they are expanding their registration pool.

As of March 17th, nearly 75,000 patients there have received at least their first dose of the vaccine there.Manatee county officials announced the decision to expand enrollment eligibility Thursday after nearly all patients 65 and up who registered have been vaccinated.

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“Everyone that registered that was 65 and older in the beginning, that was a huge number. We are now through that pool and we’re on to the next group which is 60-64-year-olds. And now, we’re starting to see that there aren’t a lot of 60-64-year-olds signing up,” said Conboy. “We started saying ‘Hey, we’re going to have a lot of these appointment slots open. We need to be ready to fill them’. And we’re starting to see a lot of people that aren’t showing up to their appointment, are opting out of their appointment.”

Other contributing factors include location options. Conboy says many people seeking the vaccine are choosing to get the shot elsewhere in the community. “Publix, CVS, Walgreens, Wynn-Dixie. It’s a great problem for us to have.”

In a statement to the CW44 News Thursday, Manatee County officials say “We are having a large number of people decline their appointment or tell us they’ve been vaccinated elsewhere. That’s why I want to encourage anyone 60 and older to sign up for a COVID-19 vaccine with Manatee County and we should be getting a shot in your arm very quickly.”

Anyone 55 and older can now enroll in the county’s online registration system or by calling Manatee County’s 311 call center.

“And we’re waiting to schedule you that appointment and you’re not going to be waiting very long,” said Conboy.

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Appointment notifications will come from a number familiar to those already in the county’s standby pool. Anyone enrolling in that standby pool should program that number in their phone so the call does not appear as spam.