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DeSantis: Floridians 60 And Up Will Soon Be Able To Get Coronavirus Vaccines

Polk County Sheriff's Office
The Florida Channel
Gov. Ron DeSantis, with Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd, speaks at a vaccination event for law enforcement officials in Winter Haven.

Gov. Ron DeSantis announced he expects to lower the age of eligibility from 65 sometime this month.

Sometime this month, all Floridians age 60 and up will be eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccines, an expansion beyond the current restriction limiting the shots to people age 65 and over, Gov. Ron DeSantis said.

DeSantis said Friday that the shift this month in age restrictions will be made depending on the supply of vaccines coming to Florida. He says eligibility may eventually include people age 55 and older and that anyone in the age group regardless of occupation will be eligible.

Speaking at a retirement community in Ocala, DeSantis said the goal of the state's vaccine strategy is to get those age 50 and over vaccinated first since “that’s the best way to save the most lives."

The arrival of vaccines from Johnson & Johnson should aid the efforts to get shots into people’s arms since it only requires a single dose, compared with two shots needed for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, he said.

“We really believe because J&J is a single dose,” he said,“we’re looking at law enforcement, fire and teachers 50 and up. That’s perfect for people that are in the workforce.”

Besides seniors, others eligible for shots include health care workers, police officers and firefighters over age 50 and all school employees.

At an event in Winter Haven, 2,000 law enforcement officers from Polk, Hardee, Highlands and Lake counties were getting shots.

DeSantis said the state had received 175,000 Johnson & Johnson vaccines and more would be coming, but not likely for at least two weeks. He said the plan is to expand pharmacy supplies into rural counties. Guidance on distribution is likely to come next week.

DeSantis, appearing with Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd, said the first shipments of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will cover all eligible sworn officers, plus the firefighters and school employees who qualify.

But in general, he said, age — not occupation — will determine who is eligible.

“If you’re 60, you’re going to be able to go, and it doesn’t matter what your vocation is,” he said. “Or it doesn’t matter if you’re retired. You’re going to be able to go. Then when we do 55, that’ll be for everybody who is 55 and up.”

On the other hand, any child care worker or K-12 employee can receive a vaccine from pharmacies in the federal program and the FEMA sites.

Information from WMFE's Joe Byrnes was used in this report.

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