Florida governor says the state will lower the vaccine eligibility age to 60 starting next week

Courtesy: Shutterstock – Image by Viacheslav Lopatin

The wait is over for another group of Floridians eager to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

Earlier this week, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced from the state capital that the state will be expanding inoculation eligibility efforts to anyone 60 or older beginning Monday, March 15.

“I’m happy to announce today that starting one week from today, next Monday; we will be lowering the age in the state of Florida to 60 plus for vaccinations,” DeSantis said. “That will apply across the board at all of the state pods, all of the pharmacies, all of the different drive-thru sites that are being operated.”

As of March 8, roughly nine percent of Florida’s population had received both the first and second doses of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, and less than one-tenth of a percent of the population had received the new one dose Johnson & Johnson variant. 

The state reportedly made the decision to lower the age eligibility requirement to the 60 plus group due to a slowdown in demand for vaccines in the older 65 plus age demographic.

“They’re not gone in 10 minutes like they were a month and a half ago,” said DeSantis, referring to vaccine appointments. “Sometimes the window will be open for an hour, hour 15, hour and a half. And so we think that that’s a good sign because we think that we’ve reached critical mass on the senior population.”

He added that he believes there will be a smaller demand in the new age gap in comparison to the older crowd but that the state is anticipating “demand to still be pretty robust.”

Florida is expecting to cross the 3 million vaccination mark for seniors this week according to the governor. 

The vaccine expansion comes after the governor had recently opened vaccine eligibility to school staff, law enforcement officers, and firefighters aged 50 and over, as well as individuals deemed “extremely vulnerable” by a doctor in regards to the virus. 

A federal order is also allowing all child care and school staff to receive the vaccine regardless of age at any federally backed vaccine sites, including any pharmacy enrolled in the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program such as local Publix locations, CVS pharmacies, Walgreens, etc. 

Gov. DeSantis is also hopeful that the state can get its hands on more Johnson & Johnson vaccines at some point next week, citing its popularity within the community.   

“Hopefully, by next week, we’ll get another shipment of the Johnson and Johnson (vaccine). I anticipate what we just got will be gone, probably within the next few days. It seems to be pretty popular.”

President Joe Biden is expected to make an announcement later today announcing the purchase of 100 million more doses of the vaccine, which will aid the process within the state.

According to the latest data from the Florida Department of Health, Florida has successfully vaccinated over 3.5 million people in the state, with Miami-Dade and Broward County leading the way with almost 800,000 total vaccines to date.

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