ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Dr. Raul Pino with the Florida Department of Health in Orange County said the county is preparing for what is expected to be a busy six weeks.
“There’s going to be an initial period where the demand is a lot higher than our ability to fulfill that demand,” Pino said. “As soon as the vaccine opens for you and have the possibility to be vaccinated, get vaccinated.”
Dr. Pino said COVID-19 cases are on the rise in the 18-25 age group. The county’s average age for new infections has lowered to the age of 30 because of this trend.
Younger people are also filling more hospital beds after being infected with the virus. Orange County reported on Thursday that people age 45 and under account for one-third of COVID-19 hospitalizations.
On Monday, people age 40 and older will qualify to get vaccinated in Florida. However, the Orange County Convention Center is already offering vaccination appointments for that age group. The decision to part ways from the governor’s order was made by Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings earlier this month.
Demings said almost 18% of all residents have received at least one dose of a vaccine. He said the county’s goal for herd immunity is 78%.
Since Orange County is already offering vaccines to that age group, officials expect a more significant spike in demand starting April 5, once anyone age 18 and older qualify. On Thursday, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced the eligibility expansion. The state’s projected timeline to expand eligibility for all adults is several weeks sooner than President Biden’s order, which takes effect May 1.
Dr. Pino also said that he thinks younger adults will be hesitant to get vaccinated.
“The level of hesitancy in individuals in that age may be higher, not for the same reasons that we have in the older segment of the population, but because they are afraid of getting vaccinated,” Pino said.
Orange County’s online appointment system for vaccinations is scheduled to open at 9 a.m. on Monday.