COVID-19 vaccine was available to anyone 18 and older at jazz event in Orlando, commissioner says

Around 3 hours later the commissioner clarified his statement and said anyone 18 and older with comorbidities.

Jazz event offers vaccine to anyone 18 & older

ORLANDO, Fla. – While people were seen enjoying live music at Bill Fredrick Park at Lake Thorton on Saturday, many people got to get vaccinated for COVID-19, but some were outside of the state and county eligibility requirements.

The jazz festival was a much-needed mental break from the COVID pandemic, according to Orlando City Commissioner Bakari Burns.

“This is a mental health time, as well. We’ve all been isolated in the house, so we are looking at this as an opportunity to get out and get some fresh air,” Burns said.

Burns was seen on a Facebook Live post as a host of the music festival, sharing people could not only enjoy music, but get vaccinated for COVID as well. Tickets for the event at Bill Frederick Park sold out earlier this week, according to the Facebook page of Burns.

In his Facebook Live post near the 5:30 mark, Burns can be heard saying, “We all need to consider getting the vaccine if you haven’t. The good thing about the event today is if you are 18 and up, you can get vaccinated.” He made this post around 1:13 p.m. on Saturday. Around three hours later Burns clarified his statement and said anyone 18 and older with comorbidities.

[RELATED: Gov. DeSantis expands vaccine eligibility to everyone 50 and older]

The words “18 and up” were heard by hundreds who rushed to the pop-up vaccination site to get a shot of getting the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.

“I got a text from my ex-wife, and she told me that they were vaccinating people that are 18 and up, which I was really surprised by,” Derrick Potts, 46, said.

Only around 250 shots were available.

News 6 spoke with Burns after the Facebook Live post aired and asked to clarify on how the pop-up clinic was able to disregard the state and county guidelines, and said he was only in charge of the jazz festival and not the clinic, which Burns said was controlled by the state’s Department of Emergency Management and went on to say he stands by the current eligibility requirements.

“The state guidelines are 60 and up, regardless, but we go down to 50, I believe, Monday, and then the county guidelines are 40 and up,” Burns said. “Now, for 18 and up, if you’re medically vulnerable, you are eligible to receive the vaccine.”

[RELATED: Anyone 40 or older can get vaccinated at Orange County Convention Center on Monday, mayor says]

While present, News 6 did observe many people who did not meet proper guidelines receive the COVID vaccine shot, but people News 6 spoke with said as long as people are being vaccinated, it’s a good thing.

“I mean, I understand seniors first, that’s a great approach that DeSantis had, but I love the fact that we are lowering that number now as we get more and more vaccinations available,” Potts said.

Burns, who is a known advocate of distributing the COVID shot especially to the elderly and minority communities, said either way, people need to consider getting the vaccine if they already haven’t done so.

“We talk about vaccine hesitancy, but I like to say vaccine confidence, because that’s what we need to do is increase the confidence, because it’s going to take all of us to end this pandemic,” Burns said.

News 6 contacted the Florida Department of Emergency Management to clarify who is eligible to get the vaccine and which pop-up events like this one will allow a broader range in age for people to get vaccinated. Unfortunately, at this time News 6 has not heard back.

About the Authors:

Brian Didlake joined the News 6 team as a reporter in March 2021.