PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — Opening vaccine access! Starting Monday, any Floridians age 60 and older will be eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine and as early as next month, if vaccine supplies stay steady, every adult in Florida could have access to the shot, according to Governor Ron DeSantis.
Monday’s lower age requirement means that 2 million more Floridians will be eligible for the vaccine. Local leaders tell ABC Action News you can expect to see a lot more walk-up, no appointment needed clinics on both sides of the bay to help speed up the process.
The Community Health Centers of Pinellas County hosted three walk-up clinics Friday and will host them again on Saturday, March 13 from 9 a.m.- 3 p.m. They will also host walk-up clinics on March 16-19 from 1-4 p.m. at three locations: The Pinellas Park Center (7550 43rd St. N. in Pinellas Park), the Clearwater Center (707 E. Druid Rd. in Clearwater) and the Johnnie Ruth Clarke Center (1344 22nd St. S in St. Petersburg).
Alberta Quarterman was able to get her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine Friday.
“It’s hope that we’re gonna come up to the end of this time frame and nightmare,” she said.
Now, she can’t wait for her younger friends and relatives to get theirs, too.
“The uncertainty in catching it, I would not advise to my worst enemy so I really pray and hope that everyone is able to get it,” she elaborated.
Licensed mental health counselor Dr. LaDonna Butler, of The Well For Life, says the vaccine rollout is bringing a sense of relief for many.
“We are experiencing hope like none other,” she said with positivity. “Our community is coming up for a breath of air, as vaccinations are rolling out and people are taking on the next level of their health.”
Both Butler and her colleague, licensed mental health counselor Tiffany Reddick, have seen more clients during the COVID-19 pandemic than any other time.
“One of the stressors was just this place of uncertainty not knowing when or if or how we would have access to this needed health resource really was a lot of stress for people,” Butler explained.
Yet, as Florida’s vaccine plan comes to light, it’s lifting a lot of weight off people’s shoulders.
“Being able to keep moving forward I think that’s what the vaccine represents,” Reddick said adding that the stress of the elections, social injustice and loss of income during COVID-19 has made for a difficult past year for mental health.
“There may be some anxiety and uncertainty still but with the light at the end of the tunnel it gives us some assuredness to keep pressing forward.”
You also don’t have to wait to sign up for a vaccine. Publix is now scheduling appointments for those above age 60. Also, no matter your age, can also register for our local county sites at www.patientportalfl.com.
You can also sign up for alerts about COVID-19 vaccines to find out when your age group is next in line at myvaccine.fl.gov.
Quarterman says she now has something very important to look forward to, “It means I can go see my grandkids soon!”