ORLANDO, Fla. - Florida continues to lead the nation with vaccination efforts as nearly 8.5 million doses have been administered so far. Those numbers will get another boost as a new age eligibility group begins on Monday.
Anyone in the state 40 and older is now eligible to get the vaccine. Then, starting the next Monday, April 5th, it will open up to everyone 18 and older. Those 16 and up can receive the Pfizer vaccine starting that day as well.
This change comes after Orange County had already dropped the age eligibility for a vaccine to 40 at the convention center vaccine site. It is also nearly a month ahead of the May 1st deadline set by the federal government.
Governor Ron DeSantis released an announcement video about the age expansion, citing that "we’ve been able to expand eligibility to those age 50 and above and we’ve seen additional success. Now because of this success, I am pleased to announce additional vaccine eligibility expansions."
He added, "while the Biden administration set a May 1st target date for vaccine eligibility for all adults, Florida is pleased to announce that all adults in the state age 18 and older will be eligible for the vaccine beginning Monday, April 5th. And this coming Monday, March 29th, the age of eligibility for the vaccine will be reduced from 50 to 40. We have now vaccinated over 70% of the roughly 4.4 million seniors living in the state."
Despite the changes, Seminole County is still expecting the same number of vaccines. They got 7,000 last week. The county's Emergency Management told FOX 35 that the last time the Governor lowered the age eligibility, they ran out of vaccines in about two hours.
They ask for people to be patient when signing up for an appointment. They intend to extend the hours their fixed and mobile sites are open so they can give more people the opportunity to get their shots.
Meanwhile, the FEMA vaccination at Valencia College West told FOX 35 that they can give out more doses on Monday than anticipated.
3,000 people can get their first vaccine dose of the Pfizer vaccine there on Monday.
Previously, it was announced that the federal vaccine sites would only distribute about 500 first-doses a day as efforts were shifting towards giving out second doses.
To increase the number of first doses available to distribute, officials said that Governor Ron DeSantis directed the Florida Division of Emergency Management and Florida Department of Health to allocate state vaccine allocations to these federal sites.
The four federal vaccine sites will remain open for another four weeks. They were originally set to close on April 28th but will now go until May 26th.
The site is first-come, first-serve. It operates between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.
People will need to bring a valid Florida identification to show proof of residency. Those getting their second dose also need to bring their vaccination card.
Several people have been anxiously waiting to get the shot.
Kayla Infantino said, "All of my friends are either waiting eagerly to get it or they’ve already gotten it. Everyone else I’ve spoken to is really eager to get it."
As of Monday, 5.6 million doses of the three coronavirus vaccines have been administered in Florida, according to the state Department of Health. Records show 2.52 million people have received the first dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or the single-shot dose of Johnson & Johnson. 3.07 million people have completed the vaccine series.
Tune in to FOX 35 Orlando for the latest Central Florida news.