Vaccinations to extend to residents 18 and older

PHOTO PROVIDED BY RON DESANTIS

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — In an effort to get more Floridians vaccinated to protect against COVID-19, Gov. Ron DeSantis will extend the eligibility requirements to anyone over 18 years old.

The COVID-19 vaccine eligibility age will be lowered to anyone ages 40 and older starting March 29, authorities said. State officials will lower the age requirement even further – to anyone ages 18 and older – starting April 5.

Indian River County residents can book vaccine appointments using the county’s Everbridge Waitlist System.

“We’ve now vaccinated over 70 percent of roughly 4.4 million seniors living in the state,” DeSantis said in a Thursday announcement on Twitter. “We’ve also made great progress on those ages 60 to 64 and those ages 50 and older. We’re ready to take the (next) step.”

The announcement comes nearly a week after state officials lowered the vaccine eligibility age to anyone ages 50 and older. That extension became effective this past Monday.

DeSantis previously said he thinks everyone in Florida will be able to book a COVID-19 vaccine appointment by May 1. Other groups who are currently able to receive the doses are:

  • Persons determined to be extremely vulnerable by a physician (form required);
  • Health care workers with direct patient contact;
  • Long-term care facility residents and staff.

DeSantis said hospitalization rates and cases have plummeted since the state began its “Seniors First” strategy. Indian River County has seen a steady decline in new cases and hospitalizations.

Indian River County had 28 new COVID-19 cases Thursday, along with 10 hospitalizations, according to the Florida Department of Health.

“We want to keep up that momentum as we expand eligibility to other groups,” DeSantis said.

Floridians can register for vaccine appointments through the myvaccine website. Once registered, residents will be notified when the vaccine is available in their area, state officials said.

Floridians can also call the vaccine pre-registration phone number for their county.

The vaccines are available at 1,600 pharmacies throughout the state including Publix, Walmart and Sam’s Club, CVS and Winn-Dixie, state officials said. State officials plan to expand the doses to more than 600 Walgreens locations.

“We’ve made great progress,” DeSantis said. “I look forward to continuing to work hard to make sure everyone in Florida who wants a shot can get a shot. No mandate, but access for all.”

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