Here’s why Central Florida officials say it’s time to expand COVID-19 vaccine eligibility in Florida

Gov. Ron DeSantis hinted he could lower the age to 55 sometime this month

Gov. Ron DeSantis hinted at plans to lower the vaccine eligibility age soon but didn’t share specifics during a news conference in Panama City on Thursday.

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis hinted at plans to lower the vaccine eligibility age soon but didn’t share specifics during a news conference in Panama City on Thursday.

Some Central Florida counties said they are seeing indicators that it may be time to expand eligibility across the state.

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Seminole County Emergency Manager Alan Harris said appointments at the Oviedo Mall vaccination site are taking longer to fill.

“We still have a few appointments at the end of next week but those are going pretty quickly,” Harris said.

He adds they are seeing cancellations, which causes them to have leftover doses at the end of the day.

“We are looking outside sometimes for anyone that may be (in) line waiting just to see if (there are) any are extra and, of course, we would much rather give a lifesaving vaccine to someone that doesn’t meet the priority group than throw it in the trash can. That simply doesn’t make sense,” he said.

A FEMA spokesperson told News 6 there were less than 500 doses left over at the mass vaccination site at Valencia College west campus on Thursday.

Osceola County Health Department spokesperson Jeremy Lanier said demand is still high. He adds any extra doses at their vaccination events are reallocated to community partners that help vaccinate homebound residents or the medically vulnerable.

Lanier said we could be seeing leftover vaccines for a couple of reasons.

“We’re hitting that threshold with majority of that eligible group is getting vaccinated. Add to the fact now more vaccine is available at different locations throughout the community and we may see a little vaccine left over at an event,” Lanier said.

Health leaders said this could be a sign for the governor to expand eligibility. The governor has hinted he could open it up to residents 55 and older sometime this month.

“It’s quite possible we’re at that point where additional groups could be added and we welcome that because we have the ability,” Lanier said.

Harris adding Seminole County is ready to administer more vaccines.

“We’re ready whenever he’s going to make his decision,” Harris said.


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About the Author:

Amanda Castro, a proud UCF alum, joined the News 6 team in November 2015 and was promoted to weekend morning anchor in April 2016. Go Knights!