ORLANDO, Fla. - The age to be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine in Florida has officially been lowered to 50.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced on Friday that the age eligibility would become 50 on Monday. His decision followed Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings' decision to allow those 40 and up to get vaccinated at the convention center vaccine site starting Monday as well.
"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 quite frankly, we think that even on current vaccine allotments that opening it up would be good."
In Florida, those eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine are now:
- Residents 50 years of age and older
- Persons determined to be extremely vulnerable by a physician (form required)
- Health care workers with direct patient contact
- Long-term care facility residents and staff
However, per Mayor Demings' decision, state residents 40 and up can get vaccinated at the Orange County Convention Center. He said that he hasn't asked the Governor for permission to lower the age because this site is run by the county, but he has informed state officials of the plan.
"Each day, we have an available supply that is not getting in the arms of Individuals and they don't want it to just sit in storage," he explained. "Up to 3,000 a day can get their shot at the convention center. We are experiencing depressed demand for being vaccinated given the current eligibility criteria for 60-plus-year-old individuals."
The Orange County Convention Center is the only vaccine site in Florida where anyone 40 and older can get a vaccine. They do not accept walk-ups but you can register online starting at 9 a.m. on Monday at ocfl.net/Vaccine.
The decision has not set well with Governor DeSantis, who believes the county should focus on vaccinating more seniors instead.
"It’s not his decision to make," he said on Friday. "I would note that Orange County is below the state average in seniors vaccinated. There at 63 percent. Trying to do healthy 40-year-olds over seniors is not a direction I would go."
President Joe Biden previously announced all Americans who want a vaccine shot should be able to make an appointment by May 1st. DeSantis believes Florida will open up the eligibility to all ages by that date.
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