LAKE MARY, Fla. - Walmart will not offer vaccines to medically vulnerable people under 65 in Florida.
Walmart said it made a mistake, Thursday when it offered vaccines to medically vulnerable people under 65. The company opened registration for vaccine distribution Thursday. Upon making an account, users were prompted to pick a category eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
Those categories included, "Florida resident deemed to be extremely vulnerable to COVID-19 by hospital providers."
State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, D-Orlando, soon called Walmart to ask what documentation such patients would need to prove any medical condition. At that point, Walmart indicated they would not provide vaccines to those under 65 with medical conditions.
"When I got Walmart on the phone, I was politely told actually they had made a mistake and they would be halting those appointments and they would not be providing a vaccination to medically vulnerable under 65," Smith said.
Although Walmart can vaccinate medically vulnerable people in other states, that is not the case in Florida. In late December, Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order that prioritizes vaccinations for senior citizens over 65, medical workers who make direct patient contact, and long-term care facility patients and workers. Walmart will follow that order.
In a statement, the company wrote:
"Walmart is a provider in the COVID-19 vaccine program administered by the federal government, and the criteria for this program is established by each state’s department of health. In Florida, Walmart’s scheduling program defaulted to the criteria on the DOH website.
"In a recent Executive Order, Governor Desantis outlined that hospital providers may vaccinate persons who they deem to be extremely vulnerable to COVID-19 and all other providers may only vaccinate 65+, healthcare personnel with direct patient contact, long term care residents, and staff.
"Walmart is working to align our scheduling system with the specific populations the state has asked us to vaccinate under the federal retail pharmacy partnership. We are honoring all appointments that have been made to-date in all categories listed in the Executive Order."
Rep. Smith said several people in the medically vulnerable category under 65 had already made appointments. Thursday night, he confirmed those appointments would still be honored.
"They could not pull the rug out from underneath these vulnerable individuals to say they would no longer have their appointments honored," he said. "We urged them to honor those appointments and I have received word from the state, and from the emergency management director Jared Moskowitz, that they have come to an agreement with Walmart that they would honor those appointments that were booked on the Walmart website."
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