‘We are ready to take this step’: Gov. DeSantis sets timeline for expanding COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to all adults

Gov. Ron DeSantis announced on Thursday that Florida is expanding COVID-19 vaccine eligibility.

Starting March 29, all Florida residents 40 and older will be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

The governor also announced that beginning April 5, Florida residents who are 18 and older will be eligible too.

READ: Here’s where to find the COVID-19 vaccine in your county

“While the Biden administration set a May 1st target date for vaccine eligibility for all adults, Florida is pleased to announce that all adults in the state age 18 and older will be eligible for the vaccine beginning Monday, April 5,” DeSantis said.

Floridians can preregister for the COVID-19 vaccine here. Once preregistered, they’ll be contacted when the vaccine is available in their area, officials said.

“We are ready to take this step,” DeSantis said.

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Vaccines are also available at 150 CVS locations, 125 Walmart and Sam’s Club locations, more than 70 Winn Dixie locations, soon-to-be over 600 Walgreens pharmacies, and every single one of the 730 Publix pharmacies across the state.

“We have made great progress and I look forward to continuing to work hard to make sure everyone in Florida who wants a shot, can get a shot,” DeSantis said.

READ: COVID vaccine wait list: How to claim “extra” doses regardless of age

Watch the governor’s announcement below:

The speed at which Florida is expanding its vaccine eligibility is putting Florida in a good place to get back to pre-pandemic life, Dr. Tim Hendrix with AdventHealth said.

He said there is a lot of vaccine demand, and if supplies hold and distribution is on track the state could reach herd immunity this summer.

“I really don’t like the term herd immunity because it applies we have full containment,” he said. “I tell people we might get 70%, 80% of people vaccinated but the real measure is what is your case rate in the community.”

READ: Coronavirus: Pfizer, BioNTech begin testing COVID-19 vaccine in children under 12

As of now, people can choose from three vaccines. AstraZeneca will be the fourth as soon as it gets its emergency use authorization from the FDA.

The company recently announced that their vaccine is less effective than they first thought, with the vaccine maker saying that new data shows the AstraZeneca vaccine is 76% effective not 79%.

But Hendrix said it’s still a good vaccine and does what it’s supposed to do.

READ: Coronavirus: AstraZeneca releases revised COVID-19 vaccine data, claims 76% efficacy

“When you are trying to compare vaccines and effectiveness you have to remember what is our goal is stopping a deadly disease lowering transmission rates and if you do get the infection it’s a very mild infection,” Hendrix said.

The FDA is expected to give the AstraZeneca vaccine EUA approval in the coming weeks.

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Katlyn Brieskorn, WFTV.com

Katlyn Brieskorn is a Digital Assignment Editor at WFTV. She joined Channel 9 in July 2019.

Shannon Butler

Shannon Butler, WFTV.com

Shannon joined the Eyewitness News team in 2013.