JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Opening up vaccinations to every Floridian age 16 and above on Monday prompted long lines in some parts of the state, but not at Jacksonville’s largest site: Gateway Mall.
Early numbers show clinics did experience higher numbers than they have in recent weeks, but the large sites in Jacksonville were not running at capacity.
Those under 18 must go to a site that offers the Pfizer vaccine, as the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are currently only authorized for people 18 and up. The state also requires 16- and 17-year-olds to be accompanied by a parent or guardian to sign a consent form. (Click here for a printable version of the form.)
“I felt like it was something that had to be done to protect others,” 17-year-old Jalen Bell said as he left Gateway Mall. “I think it’s something that shows that you take it serious.”
A couple of dozen people were in line when the FEMA-run site at Gateway opened Monday morning. No appointments are necessary at federal sites.
“It was easy,” said Tamika Hightown, who brought her 16-year-old son to Gateway on Monday morning. “You go in and follow the directions and it was in and out. It was easy.”
“I think it’s really important that people my age get vaccines, too,” said 21-year-old Maggie, who hopes to “get back to normal lives” at college soon.
WHERE, HOW TO GET A SHOT: Vaccination availability in Northeast Florida | RELATED: Where 16-, 17-year-olds can get COVID-19 shots in Jacksonville
All the sites run by the federal or government -- including the ones at Gateway Mall and Regency Square Mall -- are currently giving the two-dose Pfizer vaccine, although that will change to Johnson & Johnson on Tuesday. The state-run sites -- including Regency Square Mall and most county health departments -- are expected to continue offering the Pfizer vaccine.
The Gateway site and the satellite sites will continue administering second doses of the Pfizer vaccine for individuals who received their first dose at these sites.
Gateway can vaccinate up to 3,000 people per day, yet is averaging less than half that number. Things were quite different Monday in Orlando where the federally-supported site had reached its capacity by 1:30 p.m., according to a spokesperson for the state.
On Monday, FEMA’s mobile vaccination unit in Jacksonville is open at Abyssinia Missionary Baptist Church on Interstate Center Drive on Jacksonville’s Northside. Johnson & Johnson vaccines are available until 7 p.m. for anyone 18 years of age and older.
Florida’s age requirement dropped from 65 and up in January to 60+ in February, 50 in March and 40 and older last week. The age limits dropped to the limits of the FD-authorized guidelines.
Max Laguerre is in his 20s and he’s excited to finally be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.
“I’ve been outside most of the year, so being able to go outside and not having to worry about COVID will be a great thing,” Laguerre said.
On average, officials at Gateway say the whole process takes only about 30 minutes, which includes a 15-minute observation period after receiving the shot.
The Johnson and Johnson vaccine will become more available starting on Tuesday, replacing Pfizer at the largest vaccine site -- Gateway.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine seems to be a popular choice because it’s a single dose.
“It feels great. It was easy,” said Tina Corporan.
Corporan received her Johnson and Johnson vaccine Sunday at the library downtown.
“I did it for my husband. He has health issues that concern me and I want to make sure I don’t bring it home to him,” said Corporan.
Everyone that received their first dose of Pfizer at Gateway will be guaranteed their second dose at the Oceanway Community Center or the Carver Recreational Center.