ORLANDO, Fla. – Millions more Floridians could soon be eligible for a coronavirus vaccine as Gov. Ron DeSantis plans to lower the age limit soon.
During a news conference in Palm Harbor Wednesday, DeSantis said Florida will allow people 55 and older to qualify for the coronavirus vaccine in the coming weeks.
“I’m not going to announce it yet, but we definitely will lower to 55 sometime in March,” he said. “I think we can get that done even at the current stagnant supply.”
The governor said after observing the demand for the shots slightly dwindle, he’s confident the state can soon handle another priority group.
“We just want to make sure when we do the announcement that we don’t create a crash on the system,” he said. “We still have seniors that are getting shots which is great, obviously the 60 to 64, and it’s about another million and a half Floridians when you go down that extra five years from 60 to 55. So you just have to be able to absorb it, but I think we’ll be able to do it.”
Once the age limit is lowered, it will mark the second time in March the governor rolled back restrictions to get the vaccine.
On Monday, the state expanded eligibility to people aged 60 and older. Law enforcement officers and firefighters aged 50 and older were also recently added to the state’s priority group. Around the same time, a federal directive also deemed all K-12 teachers, school workers and child care employees of any age eligible for vaccination.
“As I mentioned, we’ve done over 3 million seniors have gotten shots, and we’re closing in on two-thirds of all seniors in Florida,” DeSantis said.
He also announced an expansion to the Federal Retail Pharmacy program. Beginning this weekend, a total of 223 Walgreen stores statewide will be offering coronavirus vaccines. CVS is now offering the shots at 182 locations in Florida.
“The more we can get those stores to have vaccine, I think the easier it is going to be for Floridians to be able to do it,” he said.
The Florida Department of Health released vaccination numbers in its Tuesday report, noting at least 4.6 million people have been vaccinated in some capacity against the virus. Nearly 2.5 million Floridians are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.