Teams canvassing Florida neighborhoods to pre-register people for COVID shot

After Gov. Ron DeSantis announced that the eligibility requirement for a COVID-19 vaccination in Florida will soon drop to age 18 and older, the Florida Division of Emergency Management on Friday offered a clarification.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – As mass vaccination sites prepare for an expected influx of newly eligible Floridians, state emergency response teams are canvassing neighborhoods trying to pre-register people for a COVID-19 shot.

The Florida Division of Emergency Management said on Twitter that outreach teams have knocked on more than 100,000 doors across the state.

Eboni Brookins, 37, is leading the team on Jacksonville’s Southside. Brookins has traveled all year assisting states in their COVID-19 response.

This is her first time working to register people for a shot.

“This part is like me being a hero. I am educating people and helping people get vaccinated that really don’t know and really don’t have the resources,” said Brookins.

Brookins says many people she encounters while canvassing are hesitant and scared to get a COVID-19 shot.

“They’ve said, ‘Is it a chip? Will it make you sick? Will it actually give you COVID?’” said Brookins.

Nathaniel Drudge, 36, told outreach teams Friday he and his family are not interested in getting the vaccine right now.

“To me, I think there needs to be more testing, and I think it needs to be out on the market a little longer,” said Drudge.

By Friday afternoon, teams in Jacksonville pre-registered 45 people for COVID-19 vaccines. At the time this article was published, the Florida Division of Emergency Management had not yet provided the number of people being pre-registered statewide through outreach efforts.

Division of Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz said he tripled the number of people canvassing communities in March, calling the effort “an additional tool to battle health equity.”

Unlike past outreach efforts, teams can pre-register a larger population of Florida during canvassing. Beginning Monday, people 40 and older will be eligible to get a vaccine and starting April 5, people 16 and older will also be eligible for a vaccine. Those 16 and 17 will only qualify for the Pfizer vaccine.

The Division of Emergency Management has not yet said if it plans to expand or rightsize state-run and FEMA supported sites to prepare for the age criteria drop in April. Instead, FLSERT says the state is evaluating all the locations.

About the Author:

Kelly Wiley, an award-winning investigative reporter, joined the News4Jax I-Team in June 2019.