DeSantis announces vaccine eligibility expansion as Florida reports 5,803 new COVID-19 cases

Everyone 40+ starting March 29; 18+ starting April 5

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced the next two vaccine eligibility expansions on Thursday.

ORLANDO, Fla. – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced the next two vaccine eligibility expansions on Thursday.

According to DeSantis, Floridians 40 and older will be able to get vaccinated starting Monday, March 29. Then, a week later, everyone 18 and older can get vaccinated.

The announcement comes as the state is set to see an increase in its vaccine supply next week.

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a total of 683,070 vaccine doses will be allocated in Florida next week, an increase of 146,420 from the previous week. The number does not include shots provided by the federal government through the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program and its FEMA-backed vaccination sites.

At the same time, AstraZeneca insists that its COVID-19 vaccine is strongly effective, even after counting additional illnesses in its U.S. study.

The drug maker said Wednesday it had analyzed more data from that study and concluded the vaccine is 76% effective in preventing symptomatic COVID-19, instead of the 79% it had reported earlier in the week.

Just a day earlier, an independent panel that oversees the study had accused AstraZeneca of cherry-picking data to tout the protection offered by its vaccine. The panel, in a harsh letter to the company and to U.S. health leaders, said the company had left out some COVID-19 cases that occurred in the study, a move that could erode trust in the science.

Some experts said the new data provided by AstraZeneca was “reassuring” and that the information was likely solid enough for U.S. regulators to authorize the vaccine, which would make it the fourth granted such authorization in the U.S., after Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.

[READ YESTERDAY’S REPORT: Florida lifts nursing home restrictions as state reports 5,190 COVID-19 cases ]

Find the state-run COVID-19 dashboard below:

Below is a breakdown of Florida COVID-19 data reported by the state on March 25.


The Florida Department of Health reported 5,803 new cases on Thursday, bringing the state’s overall total to 2,027,429 cases since the virus was first detected on March 1, 2020.


Florida reported 109 new virus-related deaths Thursday, bringing the death toll to 33,589 This number includes the 632 non-residents who died in Florida.


As of Thursday afternoon, there were currently 2,805 people with the virus hospitalized in Florida, according to the state Agency for Health Care Administration.

Since last March, 84,203 people have been hospitalized in Florida after complications from COVID-19. That number includes the 197 new patients who have been recently hospitalized due to the virus, according to the health department’s daily report released on Thursday.

Positivity rate

The percent of positive results was 5.58% Wednesday out of 103,973 tests. The numbers reported daily by the state reflect test results from the day prior. Health officials say the rate should remain between 5% and 10% to prove a community has a hold of the virus and is curbing infections.


The Florida Department of Health began releasing a daily report in December on COVID-19 vaccines administered throughout the state.

FDOH reports 2,919,263 people are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. These individuals either received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine or completed a two-shot series.

As of Thursday, 5,346,471 people have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine.

Below is the county-by-county breakdown of new cases as of Thursday.

CountyCasesNew CasesHospitalizationsNew hospitalizationsDeathsNew deaths

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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.