Florida’s vaccine eligibility age going down to 40 as of March 29

Gov. Ron DeSantis announced March 25 that Florida would be lowering its age for eligibility to receive a COVID-19 vaccination to 40 as of March 29 and then to 18 on April 5.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has announced that beginning Monday, March 29, Floridians age 40 and up will be eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccination.

In addition, all ages 18 and up will be eligible starting April 5.

The new rules will ensure that Florida meets the May 1 target set by President Joe Biden that all adults be eligible to receive the vaccine.

COVID-19 vaccinations are currently available for anyone age 50 or older and health care workers with direct patient contact. Pinellas County residents can make an appointment at www.PatientPortalFL.com or by calling 844-770-8548. Medically vulnerable individuals with a doctor’s form also can make an appointment online or by calling the phone number.

The county reports that as of March 24, plenty of appointments were available for next week.

The county’s Department of Health system began booking appointments for those ages 40-49 on Friday, March 26. Check the online portal www.PatientPortalFL.com or https://covid19.pinellascounty.org/vaccines/ for more information.

Residents must create an account to book an appointment. After they sign up, they should continue to monitor the website for an available appointment time. No texts or email invitations will be sent.

Local pharmacies also are booking appointments, including Publix, visit www.publix.com/covid-vaccine/florida; Walmart, visit www.walmart.com/covidvaccine; Sam’s Club, visit www.samsclub.com/pharmacy; and CVS, visit https://www.cvs.com/immunizations/covid-19-vaccine or call 800-746-7287.

Identification and proof of eligibility are required at all locations.

In his announcement, DeSantis said that Florida’s Seniors First vaccine strategy was paying off with more than 3.2 million seniors age 65 and older receiving shots.

“We have now vaccinated over 70% of the roughly 4.4 million seniors living in the state,” he said.

As of March 23, statewide, 2,351,572 individuals had received a first dose only of the vaccine with 186,836 receiving the one-dose shot of Johnson & Johnson and 2,666,831 completing the two-dose series of the vaccine from Pfizer or Moderna.

In Pinellas, 260,406 have received at least one shot including 164,100 of the county’s 250,000 individuals age 65 and older.

The state reported 2,021,656 COVID-19 cases with 33,480 deaths on Wednesday. In Pinellas, cases numbered 70,708 with 1,531 deaths.

County Administrator Barry A. Burton extended the county’s local state of emergency on March 24 through April 2. The ordinance requiring face coverings in public places remains in effect with employees at restaurants and bars required to wear masks while serving customers indoors and outdoors. Customers must be seated to be served.

For more information about COVID-19 in Pinellas County, visit https://covid19.pinellascounty.org/.

Suzette Porter is TBN’s Pinellas County editor. She can be reached at sporter@tbnweekly.com.

Revised to report that DOH began making appointments for ages 40-49 on March 26.