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Age requirement for COVID vaccine lowers to 50+ Monday; vaccines for all before May 1

Miami-Dade County to lower age requirement to 40+ in 2 weeks

Florida's Gov. said every Floridian that wants to be vaccinated should be able to get a shot by May 1.
Florida's Gov. said every Floridian that wants to be vaccinated should be able to get a shot by May 1.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis held a news conference Friday morning in Tallahassee, at which time he announced that he will be lowering the age requirement for COVID-19 vaccinations to 50 and up starting on Monday and will open up vaccinations to everyone “certainly before May 1.”

He said it may even happen much sooner than that.

“I can’t tell you exactly when that will happen, but I can tell you it will definitely be before May 1. That’s not even a question. And so, stay tuned on that,” DeSantis said.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava confirmed in a meeting Friday that she would also lower the age requirement at county-run vaccination sites to 50 and up on Monday, but would lower the requirement even further to 40 and older on the following Monday, March 29.

Orange County is lowering their age requirement to 40+ beginning next Monday. The governor lashed out about his plan Friday.

“It’s not his decision to make,” DeSantis said. There a structure in the state of Florida on how these decision are made,” he said.

While Miami-Dade County and Orange County run the risk of the Governor “punishing” them for bucking his rules, former state and federal prosecutor David Weinstein told Local 10 News, that the mayors also face a fiscal responsibility to get taxpayer-funded doses with a shelf life into arms.

“It becomes a bit of a political question, but if the goal is to effectively and efficiently get the vaccines into the arms of the people who live in Florida, then it should be up to the counties to decide how they use the doses that are allocated to them.”

The Florida Division of Emergency Management confirmed that this is the last weekend for first-dose vaccines at the FEMA-supported, state-run sites in South Florida.

The sites will close to those who need their first doses after Tuesday, March 23, giving minimal time for the newly qualified people to get their vaccines at those locations. The vaccination location at Miami Dade College’s North Campus will close at 7 p.m. and the satellite sites will close at 5 p.m.

Tuesday will also mark the start of the beginning of second dose vaccines at the FEMA-supported sites for those who need it.

Shots will soon be available to anyone 50 and older in Florida, and others may not need to wait much longer for a chance to get their shot.
Shots will soon be available to anyone 50 and older in Florida, and others may not need to wait much longer for a chance to get their shot.

During Friday’s news conference, the governor also spoke about the demand for vaccines, saying it has been much easier for people to sign up for appointments than in previous months.

“We think that even on current COVID vaccine allotments, the demand has been relatively modest, certainly much more modest than at the end of December when we were doing 65 and plus. So we think that this makes sense,” DeSantis said.

The governor also acknowledged that the state initially wasn’t expecting to receive any more doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for the next couple of weeks, but confirmed that Florida would be receiving 42,000 doses next week.

DeSantis said J&J vaccines are not confirmed yet for the following two weeks, but said it’s possible more shipments would come in.

According to the governor, the response to the one-dose J&J vaccine has been overwhelmingly positive despite some initial skepticism about the 66% efficacy rate.

He said studies show the vaccine is 100% effective at preventing death.

State FEMA sites

The temporary federally-supported vaccination sites are currently in the third week of operations. According to the state, they are only offering second doses for the next three weeks at the sites beginning Wednesday, March 24.

So anyone who wants to get their first dose, they have until Tuesday, March 23 at the federally-supported sites.

Satellite sites will return to the original locations over the next three weeks, so that all individuals who received their first dose at these sites can receive their second doses.

According to the state, the division will continue to post the satellite schedule online to reduce confusion about when the satellite sites will return to their previous locations.

At this time, for the last two weeks of operations (April 14 – 28), the state is planning to offer the one dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine. This will allow individuals who were not able to receive a COVID-19 vaccine in the first three weeks to have the opportunity to be vaccinated.

The state understands how critical these vaccination sites are in increasing vaccine access to Floridians. The state is working closely with the federal government to evaluate if these sites can remain open past April 28. This operation may be extended based on a variety of factors, including, but not limited to, increased vaccine allocations and resource availability. Additional details will be released as they become available.

Related links:

List of cases by city in South Florida

Find a COVID-19 testing site near you

Hospital bed capacity and availability

Coronavirus cases in Florida schools

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About the Authors:

Amanda Batchelor is the managing editor for Local10.com.

Christina returned to Local 10 in 2019 as a reporter after covering Hurricane Dorian for the station. She is an Edward R. Murrow Award-winning journalist and previously earned an Emmy Award while at WPLG for her investigative consumer protection segment "Call Christina."