JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Florida’s age eligibility requirement for getting the COVID-19 vaccine drops to 40 and older on Monday, making it available to another 2.5 million Floridians.
The age requirement dropped from 60 and above to 50 and older last week.
On April 5, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said, Florida will open the age eligibility requirement to people 18 and older. In addition, individuals ages 16 and 17 will also be eligible but only for the Pfizer vaccine.
Cindy Menker, who works in assisted living and is a regional director, got the shot on Sunday. She praised the state for its role in getting shots into arms.
“I think it’s critical all get vaccinated,” Menker said. “I think that isolation for seniors has more detrimental to them than any other age group because they do not thrive with isolation.”
There are currently more vaccination clinics available than ever in Jacksonville. Those sites include the federally-supported site at Gateway Mall. A spokesperson at the Gateway Mall site told News4Jax on Sunday that they will wrap up April 28 unless the state extends the Federal Emergency Management Agency sites in Duval County.
The Gateway Mall site and its two satellite sites are offering the Pfizer shot currently. The spokesperson said they are expecting the Johnson & Johnson vaccine on April 14 but did not yet have confirmation.
WHEN? WHERE? HOW? Getting vaccinated in Northeast Florida
There are also mobile clinics, pop-up sites and retail pharmacies, but it’s still unclear how much the demand for the vaccine will increase as Florida expands the eligibility.
Dozens of people lined up Sunday morning at the one-day vaccination event at Bruce Park in Jacksonville. Evelyn Miller, 65, and 249 others got the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine at the pop-up site. Miller said was diagnosed in 2017 with lung cancer and had several surgeries.
“I‘m almost beating it. I don’t want COVID to take me. I’m more afraid of COVID, honestly, than the cancer,” Miller said. “Please, please, please get this vaccine and wear your mask please -- if not for yourself, for everybody else.”
Outreach teams also have been going into Jacksonville neighborhoods to register people to get the vaccine. Those efforts continue Sunday when the FEMA and AmeriCorps Community Outreach team will be from the Vagabond Flea Market on Edgewood Avenue South from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. to do preregistrations, offer vaccine education and answer questions.
Some people who are 40 told News4Jax they got a call from the state on Saturday and made their vaccination appointment for Sunday. According to the Florida Association of Public Information Officers, a private scheduling company is contracted to make the appointments, and while the expanded age eligibility does not go into effect until Monday, people will not be turned away if the company scheduled them appointments for Sunday.