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DeSantis to expand COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to 60+ starting Monday; 55+ in near future

Gov. Ron DeSantis talks to reporters on Wednesday from Sumterville, Fla.
Gov. Ron DeSantis talks to reporters on Wednesday from Sumterville, Fla. (Copyright 2020 by WPLG Local10.com - All rights reserved.)

SUMTERVILLE, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis said on Wednesday that he will expand COVID-19 vaccine eligibility in Florida to people who are age 60 or older starting on Monday.

The next expansion in eligibility for the vaccine, he said, will be 55 and older. He did not release a timetable.

“As soon as we see softening of demand, that’s when we open it up,” DeSantis said.

DeSantis said that for every five-year age expansion in eligibility for the vaccine, the state is looking at about 1.8 or 1.9 million more people. DeSantis also touted the success of the vaccination campaign.

“We have a 75% decrease in cases for 65 and up since the first week of January, and we have a 75% decrease in hospitalizations among seniors since the beginning of February,” DeSantis said.

DeSantis said he decided to expand the eligibility after recording that almost 60% of seniors in Florida had received the vaccine. He said St. Johns, Leon, and Indian River counties had more than 70% of seniors vaccinated.

“As you get above 65%, it does start to slow down with the demand, and so I think we have timed this right to where will be well over 60% statewide,” DeSantis said.

He also said some of the counties that are lagging below 50% are rural counties, which he said his administration is working on sending more resources to.

DeSantis visited the Lake-Sumter State College-Sumter Campus where there is a temporary COVID-19 drive-thru vaccination site. He said 58% of the residents of Sumter County are 65 years old or older — making it the county with the highest percentage of seniors in the state.

“We are probably going to have to go back to these senior communities that we did 65 and up and hit the 55 and 60, so we will probably do that,” DeSantis said.

He said his administration is expanding retail access. He expects 1,000 seniors a day to receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

“As more of the seniors want the Johnson & Johnson, we really want to get it to them,” DeSantis said adding, “I think it’s a great vaccine ... 100% protection against death.”

For more information about vaccine eligibility or to pre-register for a vaccine, visit the state’s page or call 866-201-6313.

Related story: DeSantis criticizes federal COVID relief bill as ‘bailout for blue states’

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About the Author:

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.