Florida to reduce coronavirus vaccine eligibility to 40, then 18

Governor Ron DeSantis announced on Twitter On Thursday Florida will lower the age for coronavirus vaccination to 40 on Monday, then open eligibility to all residents 18 and older a week later.

“We are ready to take this step,” he said in a video, adding that the state has vaccinated nearly three-quarters of its more than 4 million people over the age of 65, whom DeSantis established as its first priority for vaccines.

The governor set President Joe Biden’s May 1 deadline for states to make vaccines available to all adult residents. As of Thursday, more than 5 million people had been vaccinated in Florida, according to state data.

Related: A Guide to Finding a Coronavirus Vaccine in Tampa Bay and Florida

DeSantis said the state has also been successful in vaccinating people ages 50 to 64, who became eligible through previous expansions on March 15 and Monday. (State data does not clearly show the number of doses given to people in this age group.)

Some other states, such as Alaska, Utah, West Virginia, and Mississippi, have already opened vaccine eligibility to all residents 16 and older. Texas, the second-largest state by population, and Oklahoma announced this week that they would open vaccines to everyone starting Monday. Georgia said she would do it today.

It was not immediately clear Thursday why Florida sets the eligibility age at 18 instead of 16.

Also in his Twitter video, DeSantis celebrated the state’s drop in COVID-19 cases and related hospitalizations among seniors, saying they have “plummeted” since Florida’s vaccination efforts began. “We want to keep that momentum,” he said.

The state has more than 100 county-run vaccination sites and more than 1,600 retail pharmacies that offer vaccines, DeSantis said. Walgreens will soon add 400 more locations.

“We have made great progress and I look forward to continuing to work hard to make sure that everyone in Florida who wants a vaccine can get it,” DeSantis said. “No mandate. But access for all “.

Staff writer Allison Ross contributed to this report.

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