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Gov. Ron DeSantis says COVID-19 vaccine could be available to everyone by 'sometime in April'

'We're not there yet, but we may be able to do that'
Gov. Ron DeSantis in Lake City on March 11, 2021
Posted at 10:58 AM, Mar 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-12 08:08:39-05

LAKE CITY, Fla. — Gov. Ron DeSantis said Thursday morning that most Florida residents could be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine by next month.

DeSantis made the announcement in Lake City at a vaccine site in Columbia County where they are receiving 1,000 more doses of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.

DeSantis said around 70% of seniors in Palm Beach County have now been vaccinated. He said around three million seniors in Florida have now received the shot.

He said the demand for seniors wanting the vaccine continues to soften, which will allow the state to lower the age of those eligible to get the shot. The state is lowering the age requirement to 60+ on Monday.

With the increased supply of vaccines, DeSantis said the state may be able to lower the age requirements sooner than previously anticipated.

"I do think once we get into April it may be anyone that's eligible under the EUA (Emergency Use Authorization), we may just be able to open [the vaccine] up," DeSantis said. "We're not there yet, but we may be able to do that."

Gov. Ron DeSantis holds a news conference in Lake City (14 minutes)

The state has not received any additional doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine this week, but the governor was optimistic about more shipments in the next couple of weeks.

"If the [vaccine] supply floodgates really open, we could be in a position sometime in April where it's just available, and people can get it, so that's really exciting," DeSantis said.


The governor held a second news conference in Jacksonville where he announced Walgreens sites offering the vaccine will expand from 12 to 97 stores.

He said the appointments at the Walgreens locations were open Thursday with the shots being given starting Friday.

"We think we're going to be able to expand [the retail program] even more next week, and we'll have an announcement about that," the governor said.

He said he is hopeful that the vaccine age requirement can be lowered to 55+ "relatively soon."


DeSantis issued an executive order Wednesday that cancels all fines related to local government coronavirus restrictions.

"I just think those fines are out of control, and we want to make sure that folks are protected. Most of those restrictions have not been effective. That's just the reality," the governor said.

The governor's order, signed Wednesday, states that any fines on people and businesses imposed by local governments in Florida since March 2020 because of "unprecedented local government restrictions" are remitted.

DeSantis' order does not apply to any COVID-19-related orders or enforcement taken by the state.

It also does not cancel fines imposed on assisted living facilities, hospitals or health care providers.