ORLANDO, Fla. – Beginning the first full week in April, any Florida resident over 18 years old will be eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine after Gov. Ron DeSantis announced new guidelines on Thursday.
Before all adults are eligible, the state will first open up vaccinations to those 40 and older starting Monday. Previously, the governor opened vaccines to the 65 and up age group and most recently 50 and older.
Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings moved ahead and opened the Orange County Convention Center vaccine site to anyone 40 or older beginning this past Monday. Appointments for the site were booked within 15 minutes on the first day that new age group became eligible.
Then on April 5, anyone 18 and older will be able to get any of the available coronavirus vaccines.
The Florida Department of Health clarified on Friday that Floridians who are 16 or older will be eligible for the Pfizer vaccine on April 5 as well. According to the department, the Pfizer vaccine is the exception because it is the only vaccine currently authorized for individuals under the age of 18.
The move puts Florida ahead of President Joe Biden’s goal to have all Americans eligible by May 1.
Ahead of opening vaccines up to all adult residents, Floridians are encouraged to pre-register at www.myvaccine.fl.gov to make an appointment in their area.
Retail pharmacies across the state also continue to expand access to the sought-after shots.
As of Monday, vaccines are available at 150 CVS locations, 125 Walmart and Sam’s Club locations, more than 70 Winn Dixie locations and soon over 600 Walgreens pharmacies. All 730 Publix pharmacies across Florida are also giving out the vaccine by appointment.
Florida has more than 2.6 million fully vaccinated residents as of Monday. Of those, the 65-74-year-old group make up more than half of Florida’s vaccinations, according to the Department of Health. The 18-24-year-old age group makes up the lowest group who have been fully vaccinated with under 34,000 residents. Ahead of the expansion only those under 50 qualify for shots due to their work — such as healthcare, law enforcement or being a teacher — or if they are deemed extremely vulnerable to COVID-19 by a doctor.
Florida has more than 21 million residents, including about 3 million in the 18-39 age group who will become eligible for the vaccine come April 5.