Florida could lower vaccine eligibility age ‘this month,’ DeSantis says

Decision will be based on vaccine supply, according to governor

U.S. Army medic Kristen Rogers of Waxhaw, N.C. fills syringes with the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, Wednesday, March 3, 2021, in North Miami, Fla. FEMA opened four mass vaccinations sites in Florida capable of vaccinating up to 3,000 people a day, seven days a week. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier) (Marta Lavandier, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved)

CRYSTAL RIVER, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis is looking to lower the state’s age eligibility restrictions for those who can receive the COVID-19 vaccine to below 65 years old.

The governor made the announcement Thursday during a news conference at a new vaccine pod in Crystal River, where he also announced two new Walgreens locations that will now be offering vaccination appointments in Citrus County.

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“We are going to do even more Walgreens in the coming weeks and I think that that will be particularly important when we get to a point where we can lower the age to below 65,” DeSantis said. “Which is going to happen relatively soon, certainly this month. It’s just a matter of seeing how much vaccine we’re getting.”

The governor did not provide any specific dates or say what the new age eligibility for the vaccine would be. Currently it is 65 and older unless you are a first responder, are a school employee or have a preexisting condition.

Florida is seeing an increased supply of vaccine doses being allocated to the state.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, next week Florida will be receiving 470,080 doses.

Those doses don’t include the vaccines from retail pharmacies and federally-run vaccination sites.

According to the CDC, Florida should expect 262,080 first doses of Pfizer’s vaccine and 208,000 first doses of Moderna’s.

The governor also pointed to the more than 175,000 doses the state will receive “sometime this week” of the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine. However, DeSantis also said that supply of the J&J vaccine will be the only shipment for at least two weeks.

“We’re not going to get any J&J next week. So really, the 175,000 J&J is going to take us last us for the two weeks and we may use it before then,” DeSantis said. “But, this is the only J&J for the next two weeks. We’re going to be working on working with our law enforcement, fire, and also education to be able to offer J&J for the 50 and up communities in those. I think it’s a very effective way to go in vaccinate a lot of people.”

DeSantis also hinted that the J&J vaccine would lead to more changes in Florida’s vaccine policies, but did not elaborate further.

“So stay tuned on that. And we are going to be able to do some announcements very soon involving the Johnson and Johnson vaccine,” he said.

DeSantis also held another news conference at 12:10 p.m. in Sebring. Watch below.

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About the Author:

Thomas Mates is a digital storyteller for News 6 and ClickOrlando.com. He also produces the podcast Florida Foodie. Thomas is originally from Northeastern Pennsylvania and worked in Portland, Oregon before moving to Central Florida in August 2018. He graduated from Temple University with a degree in Journalism in 2010.