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Covid-19

DeSantis: Vaccines Will Soon be Available For Those 55 And Up

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis confirmed Friday he will lower the age requirement to receive the coronavirus vaccine some time in March.

Speaking in Ocala, the governor said there would not be changes to the list of occupations that qualify for the vaccine, despite pressure from groups like college professors. 

Instead, DeSantis said the age will likely be lowered to 60 and then 55 within a few weeks.

It will happen in March,” DeSantis said. “We will move the age down. I haven’t gotten that exact date, because it’s dependent on the vaccine supply, and it’s dependent on making sure we’re getting shots in the arms for seniors.”

Currently, people over the age of 65 and frontline healthcare workers qualify for the vaccine at state sites, as well as teachers, firefighters and law enforcement officers over the age of 50. 

Meanwhile, all Florida teachers are eligible for vaccination, regardless of age, at federally operated sites, such as the Gateway Town Center, under a directive by President Joe Biden. 

WJCT News partner News4Jax reports CVS, Walmart and Publix are also vaccinating teachers of any age at pharmacies around the state, citing the federal guidelines.

Vaccine supply continues to expand in the First Coast, with hundreds of doses administered daily at the Gateway site and more retail pharmacies opening regularly. Most recently, Winn-Dixie and Harvey’s parent company Southeastern Grocers (SEG) announced it would be expanding to six new supermarkets in Duval County, bringing SEG’s Duval total to 13. 

The governor also announced a pilot program aimed at increasing vaccines in rural counties. The state is partnering with Health Hero Florida to implement the program in six Florida counties, including Putnam.

Starting next week, Health Hero Florida will be implementing pop up vaccination sites at churches, schools, community centers and housing developments in those six rural counties that also include Highlands, Glades, Levy, Dixie and Gilcrist.

With the newly approved Johnson & Johnson vaccine arriving in states across the country, including Florida, President Joe Biden said he expected the vaccine to be available to all Americans by May. 

Contact Sydney Boles at sboles@wjct.org, or on Twitter at @sydneyboles.

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