The long wait is finally over. After several months of isolation and social distancing, a light of hope can be seen at the end of the tunnel. Millions of Florida residents will be relieved to hear that vaccines will soon be available to all Floridian adults.
According to Gov. Ron DeSantis, all Floridian adults 18 and older will be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine on April 5.
Florida residents aged 16 and 17 may also get their vaccine, but it will be much more difficult for them to find a dose. Pfizer is the only approved vaccine for those ages, and there are limited locations in Florida that offer it. Experts say that there are several studies being done in order to find the effectiveness and safety of vaccines for younger ages.
Florida has thus far prioritized vaccinations for senior residents through innovative pilot programs, pushing Florida ahead of most states in availability. It is also thanks to Florida’s Seniors First vaccine strategy that availability is increasing to even younger age groups.
DeSantis praised the fact that more than 3.2 million people aged 65 and older have been vaccinated and that case rates and hospitalizations have significantly decreased for seniors.
For a while now, many experts have been debating on whether Florida’s vaccine supply can handle a decrease in age requirements. The Florida Director of Emergency Management, Jared Moskowitz, even argued previously that the age requirement for vaccines will continue going down by the governor’s orders.
Tensions began to rise between local counties and state orders when Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings lowered the age requirement at the Orange County Convention Center vaccination site to 40 and older, which contradicted regulations provided by the state government. An executive order by DeSantis required age eligibility to be 50 and up.
However, just as tension and conflicts were at their peak, an increase in shipments of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine arrived. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a total of 683,070 vaccine doses were allocated in Florida in the past week. This was an increase of approximately 150,000 from the preceding week.
As a direct response, DeSantis took action and stated, “We’ve been able to expand eligibility to those age 50 and above and we’ve seen additional success. Now because of this success, I am pleased to announce additional vaccine eligibility expansions.”
DeSantis added, “While the Biden administration set a May 1 target date for vaccine eligibility for all adults, Florida is pleased to announce that all adults in the state age 18 and older will be eligible for the vaccine beginning Monday, April 5.”
Vaccines are key to getting Florida back on track. With over 6 million people vaccinated in Florida, it seems that the state will soon be able to recover from this pandemic.
According to Carol Dover, President and CEO of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, “Opening the vaccines to residents age 18 and older in the coming days is a huge victory for our hospitality industry, not just for our guests, but for our 1.5 million employees.”
To pre-register for a vaccine, the state has created a portal in myvaccine.fl.gov for any Floridian adults aged 18 years or older. After pre-registering, you will be contacted about the vaccine availability in your area. Those with more questions about vaccine pre-registration can contact their county’s vaccine pre-registration department, listed here.
Featured image: Man in scrubs holding a vaccine. Image by Mikhail Mikhaylov.
Check out other recent articles from the Florida Political Review here.