TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Floridians 50 and older will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine beginning Monday, March 22, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced on Friday.
DeSantis held a press conference in Tallahassee with Division of Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz to announce the new order.
The governor said the demand for vaccines has been "relatively modest," and he feels it makes sense to lower the age from 60+ to 50+.
.@GovRonDeSantis signing an executive order today lowering Florida’s vaccination age to 50+, effective Monday. Also says Florida is on track to open shots to everyone before May 1.— Forrest Saunders (@FBSaunders) March 19, 2021
The governor also said he thinks the state will definitely be opening vaccines up to everyone before May 1, if not sooner.
“We’re lucky. We’ve been lucky so far that we made it through this first year without getting anything, so it just means a lot to us to be able to start to live normal again," said Lisa Harmon.
The news of the change was music to the Harmon family's ears. Lisa says she works in the healthcare field but doesn't have direct patient contact. She and her husband, William, have just been waiting for their chance.
“The more people getting vaccinated, it can start pushing this thing behind us too and just start trying to go back to normal the best we can," said William.
Sabine Meyer was overjoyed to learn she would finally qualify for the vaccine. Meyer was also able to already snag herself an appointment for next week.
"I do work in hospitals. I’m not a first responder, and I don’t have direct patient access, so I have been grounded for a year and not able to do my job the way that I used to do it," said Meyer. "But also to not be so paranoid and worried and concerned of getting the illness which you think the worst. What if I have no symptoms? What if I have the worst symptoms? I feel like that stress is just gone.”
At the Tampa Greyhound Track vaccination site, Carole Covey, the site's incident commander, said they're able to take care of the number of patients that are going to be coming through. Covey explained for medical staffing, they have over 200 people on site.
“We are absolutely ready," said Covey. "Our team is prepared to handle the increase in patients, and if we have all the appropriate resources we need, we are ready on site to take care of the community.”
During the press conference, DeSantis said the state is administering about 150,000 shots daily from Monday to Friday.
DeSantis said Florida has vaccinated more than three million senior citizens, with close to 70% of all seniors getting at least one shot.
"That was our goal starting out," DeSantis said. "We've had a huge response from seniors, I think many of them have been very happy."
Moskowitz said around 3,500 seniors have been vaccinated through the state's homebound program. Seniors who are homebound can email HomeboundVaccine@em.myflorida.com or call 866-779-6121 to get vaccinated.