Gov. DeSantis expands vaccine eligibility to everyone 50 and older starting Monday

Expansion begins on Monday

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis is expanding vaccine eligibility in the state of Florida to include everyone 50 and older starting on Monday.

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He made the announcement Friday morning during a news briefing in Tallahassee.

“I’m going to sign an executive order this morning, lowering the age to 50, effective Monday,” DeSantis said. “We think we’ve done pretty good this week with 60 to 64, but, but quite frankly, we think that even on current vaccine allotments that opening it up, will be good.”

[Read the full executive order here]

DeSantis pointed to a modest demand for the vaccine among people in the 60 to 64 age bracket, who became eligible for vaccinations last Monday. The governor added that he expects to open up vaccine eligibility to everyone shortly after this next eligibility expansion.

“I think the demand has been relatively modest certainly much more modest than it was at the end of December when we were doing the 65 And plus,” Desantis said. “So we think that this makes sense and I think we’ll see how it goes next week, but I think we will definitely be opening it up to everybody, certainly before May 1 and, and maybe much sooner than that, so stay tuned there.”

The governor did not give a timeline for when eligibility would open to everyone.

Jeremy Lanier with the Osceola County Health Department said they are ready for when the eligibility expands on Monday.

“Based on our experience with 65 on up group and of course the 60 on up group, we saw significant increases in traffic at our main vaccination site. We’re anticipating that to be the same,” Lanier said. “We’re ready and able to provide our response.”

Seminole County Emergency Manager Alan Harris said they’re hearing a lot of interest from people ages 50 and up.

“It’s certainly a lot of calls today and we’re trying to get them appointments as we can,” Harris said.

DeSantis also announced another shipment of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine coming to the state. Florida is expected to receive 42,000 doses of the singe-dose vaccine next week, according to the governor.

“The next two weeks after that is showing zero but I think what’s happening is I think this is a dynamic situation,” DeSantis said.

Florida initially received more than 175,000 doses of the J&J vaccine two weeks ago but has not received a shipment since then.

In addition to the J&J doses, Florida is expected to 286,650 doses of the Pfizer vaccine and 208,000 doses of Moderna, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These numbers are only the state allotments and do not reflect any additional vaccines provided by the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program.

The governor also stressed his plans to expand Florida’s vaccination efforts with retail pharmacies.

“If we were to get 100,000, 200,000 extra doses, we would give the vast, vast majority of that to CVS, Walgreens, because I think if we can get it in every CVS, then this thing becomes something that is, that is really, really easy to get,” DeSantis said. “I think that the retail pharmacies ... have been very effective, and I think it’s something that is proven to be the right strategy.”

Publix is already accepting vaccine appointments for people 50 and older.

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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.