Families frustrated over ‘red tape’ as Florida governor talks expanding vaccine eligibility

Governor DeSantis says all adults may be eligible for vaccine in April

APOPKA, Fla. – Tiffany Cosklow sat outside the pop-up vaccination site at the Apopka Community Center Friday making calls to try to get updated paperwork.

“It’s just frustrating. This is my second attempt of getting my vaccine and getting turned away,” said Cosklow.

She and members of her family made appointments and brought the health department’s extremely vulnerability form. While Cosklow’s husband and father were able to get the shot, she and her sister are left without it because a nurse practitioner signed their form instead of a doctor.

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“It’s frustrating because we came from Clermont, a 40-minute drive,” said Daye Aries. “The family’s all trying to get the vaccine to better protect Preston.”

Cosklow’s son Preston is wheelchair-bound with underlying health conditions that make him high-risk for getting the virus. Preston won’t be eligible for the vaccine anytime soon because he’s 15 years old.

“If we come here and we’re willing to take it, just give it to us. We don’t need all this red tape. Everyone needs the vaccine, so if we want it, we should be able to get it,” said Cosklow.

Along with first responders, educators and healthcare providers, those who are 65 and older can get the vaccine as well as those who are deemed “extremely vulnerable” with a form filled out by their doctor. That will soon change.

On Thursday, President Joe Biden announced all adults will be eligible for the vaccine by May 1. In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis will expand eligibility to 60 and up Monday with the possibility of lowering that age soon after.

“I’m pretty sure by the time March is up, we’ll have 55 and up no questions asked. Surely some point in April, depending on demand I think it’ll be open to all adults who want it,” said DeSantis.

Those who are 60 and older will be able to make appointments over the weekend for a vaccine on Monday.

Kent Donahue, a spokesperson for the Orange County -- Florida Department of Health, said the vaccination site at the convention center is prepared to roll out mass vaccination efforts and has been working on logistics.

“It’s not just the vaccine, it’s the staff, it’s also all the Band-Aids, syringes and alcohol wipes that go along with the vaccines,” said Donahue.

Keep in mind, vaccination sites like the convention center are by appointment only. Compared to FEMA sites like the one at Valencia College West that accept walk-ins.

Donahue said those sites may have a long waiting time if a crowd shows up when the vaccine is available to all adults.

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