Miami-Dade County is closing in on full vaccine eligibility for people of all ages as the state and county governments have announced lowered age requirements for the COVID-19 vaccination in coming weeks.
At a press conference this morning with Florida's outgoing emergency-management director, Jared Moskowitz, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced that state-run vaccine sites will be open to people 50 and older starting Monday, March 22, and that eligibility is likely to expand to the general population by May 1. Last week, President Joe Biden directed all state leaders to open vaccine eligibility to all adults by May 1.
At the same time, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava announced this morning that county-run sites will begin administering vaccines to younger age groups at a slightly quicker pace.
Starting Monday, March 22, the county will lower its age requirement to those 50 and older, and then to those 40 and older on the following Monday, March 29. A spokesperson for Cava's office tells New Times the county will lower the age requirement by ten years each week until vaccines are available for all ages in April.
The difference in eligibility standards between DeSantis and Cava is just the latest source of confusion caused by a patchwork of federal, state, and county guidance in Florida that has left residents scrambling to find a site where they can be vaccinated.
This past Monday, March 15, the state lowered the minimum age to 60. But vaccine rollout has slowed in recent weeks after an initial surge, which some have attributed to strict state rules for vaccine eligibility, including DeSantis policies that require all Floridians to provide proof of residency and medically vulnerable people to provide a doctor's note.
During today's press conference, DeSantis said the demand for vaccines may have declined recently because people between 60 and 65 may have pre-existing health conditions that already made them eligible to receive the vaccine.
To be clear about what’s happening here: capacity is going unused, local mayors are refuting the state rules on age minimums as the clock ticks down on FEMA support for mass vaccination sites. Meanwhile vaccine supply projections are flat for the next two weeks.. https://t.co/uUIPoALbNZ— Ben Conarck (@conarck) March 19, 2021
According to Florida Department of Health data, more than 575,000 people in Miami-Dade County have been at least partially vaccinated through March 17, and over 275,000 have been fully immunized.
As of next Monday, the following groups are eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine under state and county guidelines:
- Long-term care facility residents and staff
- People 50 and older
- Healthcare personnel with direct patient contact
- K-12 school employees 50 and older
- Sworn law enforcement officers 50 and older
- Firefighters 50 and older
- Anyone determined by a physician to be extremely vulnerable to COVID-19 (with a doctor's note)
For a rundown of vaccination sites, see New Times' running list for Miami-Dade and Broward counties.
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