“We think we’ve done pretty well this week with the 60 to 64,” DeSantis told reporters. “But, quite frankly, we think that even on current vaccine allotments that opening it up will be good.”
This move marks a development in Governor DeSantis’s “Seniors First” vaccine strategy. The strategy, which originally conflicted with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance, prioritizes the elderly.
“I think we’ve had a huge response from seniors,” Governor DeSantis said, calling it a relief for many.
Florida is approaching a 70% COVID 19 vaccination rate among seniors, but the demand is slowing down. And he expects fewer members from younger age groups to want a vaccine. Already, the age to 60 to 64 has shown “relatively modest” compared to seniors, perhaps because those who really wanted a show because of comorbidities already had access.
Appointments were taking several hours to fill rather than the usual minutes.
“There’s just a certain critical mass of seniors that really want it,” DeSantis said.
The Governor had mused about dropping the age to 55 in prior public appearances. But dropping the age to 50 would open it up to a larger segment of the state, which DeSantis and Division of Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz said the state has the capacity to handle.
The state is expecting to receive 420,000 doses of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID 19 vaccine formula next week. However, zero Johnson & Johnson COVID 19 vaccine shipments are slated for the following week. Still, the Governor said that could change.
“I think what’s happening is this is a dynamic situation,” Governor DeSantis said. “I think it’s very possible that we do get some J&J.” Unlike Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines, except when the winter storm across the South delayed a Moderna shipment a week, J&J shipments haven’t been arriving on a weekly basis
DeSantis and Moskowitz also highlighted the state’s effort to vaccinate underserved communities, including through a door-to-door initiative in minority communities. Officials will have knocked on 35,000 doors by the end of the day to signed people up for appointments. In some communities, officials are even offering vaccines directly at the door.
That program has led to about a 10% success rate, Moskowitz said. And likely wouldn’t move the needle broadly, but would help reach low-income communities.
“There are people obviously in the minority community that have transportation issues. They might not have a car or they share a car,” Moskowitz said. “There are education issues, so when we come to the door, we educate them about the program. There are historical hesitancy issues.”