TAMPA, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) – A new COVID-19 vaccination site specifically serving veterans is now open in Tampa.
Previously located near James A. Haley Veterans Hospital, the vaccination operations moved Tuesday to the Yuengling Center on the University of South Florida campus. Organizers say the previous site was much smaller and was causing a lot of traffic issues. At the new site, space is at a premium and will better assist with the current goal to vaccinate up to 1,500 people per day, eventually increasing to 3,500.READ MORE: Authorities Have Identified The Suspect Who Attacked Author Salman Rushdie
Navy Veteran Jatin Sharma says, “It’s been taking forever, so getting this vaccination I think is really great.” Tuesday was a day Sharma has been looking forward to for a long time. “Getting this done was important. I could have waited until whatever date but I think this was an important decision, not just for me but for my family.”
After hearing a new vaccine site specifically for veterans was opening up in Tampa, he made the two-hour drive from Orlando. “The more facilities like this, the better it’s going to be, the quicker it’s going to be. It’s just wonderful,” said Sharma.READ MORE: Anne Heche's Son Mourns His Mother
Mara Carrasquillo, the veteran hospital’s Chief of Pharmacy, says “Those are the people who did so much for all of us and we thank them for the service that they did, so veterans are our number one priority.” Carrasquillo says moving the site from the James A. Haley Veterans Hospital to the Yuengling Center will eventually allow them to give up to 3,500 shots per day. “The goal for us to move here was to be able to do more. Why? Because we had limitations at the in the parking lot that we were at in terms of space,” said Carrasquillo.
An added benefit of the site allows the vaccination of family and caregivers of veterans enrolled with the hospital. “We need to vaccinate as many people as we can so we can end this pandemic,” said Carrasquillo.
Sharma says with one shot down, the second dose means a trip to see loved ones. “I haven’t seen my mom and dad for over a year now so going back to New York, it will be great. My son he’s five years old, so it means a lot. Talking on the phone means one thing but meeting them finally is another thing.”MORE NEWS: Florida Students Return To Schools Reshaped By Gov. Ron DeSantis' Anti-'Woke' Education Agenda
The center is also offering vaccines to those who meet the state’s requirements.