JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis said Tuesday that he hopes Florida will open eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine to all adults “long before May 1.”
The statement comes after the state announced Monday that federal vaccination sites in Jacksonville, Miami, Orlando and Tampa will extend the delivery of the first doses for another two weeks and lowered the age requirement for the vaccine to 50 years or older. .
Monday was the first day Floridians ages 50-59 were eligible to receive COVID-19 injections. It was also the first time in a week that the five federal and state funded vaccination sites in Duval County administered more than 60% of their total vaccine supply. Despite the improvement, the five sites together had the capacity to vaccinate 2,500 more people on Monday.
Federal and state run sites throughout Duval County have struggled for weeks to administer as many doses as they have available. The day before the age requirement for the vaccine was lowered to 50 years or older, the federal vaccination site at Gateway Mall gave shots to 500 people. It had the capacity to vaccinate 3,000, according to the Florida Division of Emergency Management.
Critics of the Florida vaccine launch have blamed low participation in vaccination clinics on strict age and medical requirements, specifically the required Florida Department of Health form that physicians must sign to show that their patients under the age of 50 years are “extremely vulnerable” to COVID-19.
Britney Pierre, 21, was able to land an opportunity at the federal site at Gateway Mall because of her work as a research assistant.
“I walked in, they said, ‘Oh, I don’t think you can get it because you don’t have a pay stub,’” Pierre said. “Fortunately, another person came out and said that we are eligible. After that, it was easy to navigate from there. “
Pierre argues that people his age should also get vaccinated to prevent the spread of the coronavirus to vulnerable populations.
“I understand that the older generations are also because they are the most vulnerable, but it will also help reduce the group of people who spread it,” said Pierre.
In addition to retail pharmacies and federally and government-run vaccination sites in Jacksonville, a pop-up vaccination clinic was set up Tuesday near Jacksonville’s historic Springfield neighborhood. The clinic offered 250 single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine injections without appointments. That brand of vaccine has been sought out, but it has been in short supply in Florida.
LaToya Shelton, 36, is an attorney in Jacksonville. Shelton said she is medically vulnerable and came to the pop-up vaccination clinic specifically to receive an injection of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
“It’s been a bit confusing where to get it, where to go,” Shelton said. “This was a particular, simple information, this is when you can go.”
The state’s ability to administer the first doses at federally funded sites in Florida will decline this week. Starting Wednesday, Federal Emergency Management Agency vaccination centers in Jacksonville, Miami, Orlando and Tampa will be able to administer 500 first doses of the Pfizer vaccine per day through April 7.
The FEMA satellite sites at Oceanway Community Center in Jacksonville’s Northside and Carver Center in Jacksonville Beach will return to their original locations at Normandy Community Center and Hammond Senior Center and will only provide second doses for returning patients.
Beginning April 14, the Florida Division of Emergency Management expects a shipment of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to be offered to people seeking their first vaccinations.
While the now-largest vaccination site in Jacksonville is making a major change to its operations on Wednesday, retail pharmacies and state-run sites, such as those at Regency Square Mall and Edward Waters College, are expected to continue to receive the same number of doses. to continue vaccinating people seeking their first vaccinations.
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