Within minutes of going live on Monday morning, Hillsborough County’s registration website for seniors hoping to get the COVID-19 vaccine had crashed, apparently due to the high volume of traffic.

Due to high-demand, the external #COVID19 vaccination registration system and phone center are experiencing service interruptions. Please expect continued delays when attempting to make an appointment as work continues to mitigate the technical issues. pic.twitter.com/OGHZbYgsMZ

— FL DOH in Hillsborough County (@DOHHillsborough) January 4, 2021

The plan was for Hillsborough County residents 65 and older to begin making appointments to receive the highly-sought vaccine on a county-run website that went live at 9 a.m. on Monday: HCCCOVID19Shot.as.me. Distribution is still set to begin on Wednesday and will span four days.

But by 9:45 a.m. on Monday, the website still wasn’t working. Instead, visitors saw only a blank page with the words “500 Internal Service Error.”

County officials said vaccination appointments can also be made with a phone call to 888-755-2822. The phone lines should be open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday. However, the flood of phone calls into the line Monday morning was also causing problems, with many reports of calls being dropped or simply receiving an unending busy signal.

Related: Hillsborough County to start vaccinating seniors on Wednesday

Similar issues with jammed phone lines were reported in Pinellas County, which also opened up its vaccine registration to the public Monday. Pinellas County residents can contact the local Health Department office at 727-824-6900 or call their COVID-19 call center at 866-779-6121.

In response to social media comments and phone calls from frustrated residents, Hillsborough County officials could offer only the following “approved” statement:

“Due to high-demand, the external registration system and phone center are experiencing service interruptions. Please expect continued delays when attempting to make an appointment as work continues to mitigate the technical issues.”

Hillsborough County, working with the local office for the Florida Department of Health, was initially given only 1,500 doses of the coronavirus vaccine from the state of Florida to distribute amongst residents. On Monday morning, though, the county announced that Tampa General Hospital has delivered an additional 3,000 doses of the vaccine for distribution amongst seniors ages 65 or older.

With the surprise vaccinations from Tampa General and another anticipated shipment from the state health department, county officials said they hope 9,000 people will receive the first dose of the two-shot vaccine this week.

The vaccines will be administered at four locations spread across the county beginning on Wednesday, Jan. 6, but appointments are mandatory and there is no waiting list, the county said.

This week’s schedule is as follows:

Wednesday, January 6

Strawberry Festival Fairgrounds: 2700 W. Risk St., Plant City, FL 33563Ed Radice Sports Complex: 14720 Ed Radice Drive, Tampa, FL 33626

Thursday, January 7

University Mall (parking lot): 2200 E. Fowler Ave., Tampa, FL 33612Vance Vogel Sports Complex: 13012 Bullfrog Creek Road, Gibsonton, FL 33534

Friday, January 8

University Mall (parking lot)Strawberry Festival FairgroundsEd Radice Sports Complex

Saturday, January 9

University Mall (parking lot)Strawberry Festival Fairgrounds

This is a developing story. Stay with www.tampabay.com for more updates.

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