Gov. DeSantis believes vaccine eligibility could open to all Floridians in April

Vaccines to be available to 55+ in March

LAKE CITY, Fla. – Days before Florida expands its COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to people 60 and older, Gov. Ron DeSantis is already looking to open up vaccinations to all Floridians.

“We could be in a position, sometime in April, where it’s just available, and people can get it. And, so, that’s really exciting,” DeSantis said Thursday while speaking at a vaccination site in Lake City.

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The governor had said Wednesday that he hopes to open vaccinations to everyone after people 55 and older get inoculated.

“We will do 55 this month I’m pretty confident, unless there’s some major change in the vaccine supply,” DeSantis said.

All this comes as the state will begin vaccinating people who are 60 and older on Monday.

DeSantis talked broadly about other vaccination efforts the state is undertaking.

“We’ve given it to health plans, who then reach out to their own members and say, ‘Hey I have I have this.’ So I think Blue Cross and some of those are now in the game,” DeSantis said. “We want to get more into physician practices and doctor’s offices, because that’s an easy thing to do because someone may go to the doctor for some other reason a doctor will say, ‘Why don’t you do a COVID shot?’ and then you can do it.”

Also on Thursday the governor announced the expansion of vaccine availability at Walgreens locations across the state. The pharmacy chain expanded from 12 locations to 97 offering vaccines as of Thursday afternoon, DeSantis said at a news conference from a Walgreens in Jacksonville.

Some of those new locations are in Central Florida in Lake, Marion Polk and Sumter counties.

While the state is expanding its retail pharmacy vaccinations, the supply of vaccine to the state is also increasing.

Florida is slated to receive 281,970 doses of Pfizer next week. When combined with the 208,000 doses of Moderna, the state is scheduled to receive nearly half a million doses of a coronavirus vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tracking information.

The 489,970 vaccine vials allocated to Florida are more than what the state received this week.

This supply is separate from the shipments sent to federally run sites and to pharmacies partnering with the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program.

However, the governor said it is unclear when the state might receive more of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, though he hinted that more J&J doses could be the key to opening up the state’s vaccine eligibility.

“We haven’t gotten any additional J&J for this week. We don’t know that we’re going to get any for next week either, but probably the week after that, we’ll start to do it. I think the production on that is going to ramp up very quickly so we could be in a situation, go down to 60 on Monday, we get to 55 relatively soon, and then at the supply floodgates really open.”

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About the Author:

Thomas Mates is a digital storyteller for News 6 and 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.