Gov. DeSantis expands COVID-19 vaccine access to include Floridians deemed ‘extremely vulnerable’

ORLANDO, Fla. — On the same day Gov. Ron DeSantis extended Florida’s state of emergency, he also quietly signed an executive order expanding access to vaccines for medically vulnerable Floridians under 65.

The previous order, signed Dec. 23, stated hospital providers were the only ones who could vaccinate people who they deemed to be extremely vulnerable to COVID-19.

Watch: Florida allows COVID-19 vaccines for those under 65 who are deemed medically ‘high-risk’

Otherwise, only long-term care facility residents, persons 65 and older and health care personnel with direct patient contact could be vaccinated.

This meant medically vulnerable people couldn’t get the shot at mass vaccination sites run by the state and county health departments, nor could they go to pharmacies.

Now, the new order states licensed physicians, advanced practice registered nurses and pharmacists can vaccinate people “determined by a physician to be extremely vulnerable to COVID-19.”

Watch: As seniors’ demand for vaccine slips, medically vulnerable ask if they’re next

This is something younger, medically vulnerable Floridians — from transplant recipients and cancer patients to people with cystic fibrosis or Down syndrome — and their physicians have been calling and emailing state agencies about for more than a month.

It’s clear some retail pharmacies have gotten the memo.

Read: Florida Walmart stores mistakenly make COVID-19 vaccine appointments for extremely vulnerable people under 65

Publix, which reopens its vaccination portal on Monday at 7 a.m., has acknowledged Governor DeSantis’ recent executive order including vaccinations for “persons determined by a physician to be extremely vulnerable to COVID-19.”

Read the executive order below:

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