JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Right now, the priority in Florida is to vaccinate those age 65 and older and frontline health care workers against COVID-19.
But Florida Hospital Association President and CEO Mary Mayhew explained that another group is eligible to get vaccinated at certain hospitals.
“Twenty-eight hospitals this week received a first dose allocation to begin supporting individuals who are medically vulnerable in their communities,” Mayhew said.
Mayhew told News4Jax that Gov. Ron DeSantis has prioritized some initial allocation for the medically vulnerable who are under the age of 65, but it’s a small amount.
“Hospitals may have received 1,000 doses and then when they ran it up against the individual patients who fit the criteria, they were finding 50,000-60,000 that fit the criteria,” said Mayhew.
Right now, UF Health Jacksonville is one of the hospitals that will vaccinate its patients if they have certain preconditions.
In an email sent to a patient, the hospital said it now has COVID-19 vaccines available on a limited basis.
The vaccines are “for existing patients at select practices who are 18 and older.”
Vaccinations are by appointment only, so if you are an existing UF Health patient, keep an eye out for the email letting you know if you’re eligible.
Mayhew said a fairly broad array of criteria could make a patient eligible, including cancer patients and those with significant heart conditions.
According to the Florida Department of Health, the state is prioritizing the following to be vaccinated: https://floridahealthcovid19.gov/vaccines/vaccine-locator/
- People 65 and up
- Health care workers
- Long-term care facility residents and staff
- People deemed to be extremely vulnerable to COVID-19 by hospital providers
“This absolutely continues to be the hope, the optimism that we all want to have that we can get this pandemic in our rearview,” Mayhew said.
Mayhew called it a starting point, but said she hopes the allocation and prioritization continues.
Mayhew understands it’s hard to even ask for patience after what families had to endure this past year -- but as soon as Florida receives more doses, facilities will be able to schedule more appointments and expand vaccinations.
“I’m encouraged that we will start to see slight increases of the amount of vaccines coming to Florida,” Mayhew said. “I hope that just continues to build and that as individuals start to schedule those appointments, they may see the window be a little shorter to give everyone a little hope that they can get the vaccine and that their lives can start to resume some normalcy.”