Tampa, Winter Haven Sites Offering Vaccines Without Appointments

People eligible for COVID 19 vaccinations in Florida, including k-12 teachers of all ages, can get them without an appointment at the new federal mass vaccination site at the Tampa Greyhound Racetrack and at a temporary site in Winter Haven.

In Winter Haven, the FEMA site will be equipped to handle up to 500 patients a day from 9 a.m. through 5 p.m. through March 10 at Lake Maude Park, 1799 7th St. NE.

Doses are administered on a first-come-first-served basis at both the Winter Haven and Tampa sites.

The Tampa site is at 755 E. Waters, Ave. near the Bird Street I-275 exit and is equipped to handle more than 2,000 patients a day. It’s open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Those eligible for vaccinations at the federal sites include:

  • Seniors 65 and older
  • K-12 school employees
  • Healthcare personnel with direct patient contact
  • Long-term care facility residents and staff
  • Sworn law enforcement officers 50 and older
  • Firefighters 50 older

Florida’s Division of Emergency Management says no appointments are needed at the federal sites, but proof of Florida residency must be provided.

If all of the day’s slots have been filled at the Tampa site, then staff will schedule an appointment to get the vaccine at a later date, the Bradenton Herald reported. In Winter Haven, people who arrived Thursday after the doses had been exhausted were not offered appointments, according to social media posts.

People who want to make sure a vaccination is available when they arrive at the Tampa site can register online at myvaccine.fl.gov, the Herald reported. No appointments will be available for satellite sites like the one in Winter Haven, according to the Florida Division of Emergency Management.

The Winter Haven site is considered a “spoke” of the larger Tampa “hub” site. More locations in Polk County will be announced in the future, with locations likely to be accessible to low-income residents.

Teachers

Teachers, bus drivers and other staff at k-12 schools can now get COVID-19 vaccines at several pharmacy chains, including Publix, Walmart and CVS stores, as a result of a White House initiative to inoculate educators.

This is the first time that policies at Florida pharmacies participating in the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program have differed from Gov. Ron DeSantis’ priorities. DeSantis recently added teachers age 50 and older to the list of those eligible for vaccines.

Representatives of all three chains acknowledged Thursday that they have changed eligibility to align with the new federal directive.

“Starting with appointments made during tomorrow’s scheduling opportunity, all Florida K-12 and child care teachers and personnel will be eligible to make an appointment at a Publix Pharmacy,” said Publix spokeswoman Maria Brous in a statement issued Thursday.

The state website giving information about the federal sites, including the ones in Tampa and Winter Haven, still listed availability for teachers 50 and older as of this morning. But teachers younger than 50 reported on social media that they had received vaccinations at the Winter Haven site.

And Florida Emergency Manager Jared Moskowitz told The Orlando Sentinel Thursday night that teachers of any age can be vaccinated at the federal sites, although Gov. DeSantis’ order isn’t being updated.

All three pharmacy chains offer online registration for COVID-19 vaccinations: Publix | CVS | Walmart