South Floridians continue to get vaccinated as eligibility age drops to 60

NORTHWEST MIAMI-DADE, FLA. (WSVN) - More South Floridians are heading to vaccination sites as the eligibility age dropped to include those who are 60 and older.

Starting Monday, any Florida resident aged 60 and older can get a COVID-19 vaccine.

As the vaccination rollout ramps up across South Florida, Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava warned residents that now is not the time to let their guard down.

“We’re moving in the right direction, there’s light at the end of the tunnel,” she said. “We’re in the middle of spring break, with a lot of people coming in from out of town who don’t necessarily want to follow the rules, and now is not the time to let up.”

Those who got vaccinated at Miami Dade College’s North Campus in Northwest Miami-Dade said it was quick and easy.

“Very well organized,” said one woman. “We are so happy.”

“I see a lot of people are doing it, so I’m just going to go for it,” said one man at the site.

A woman who identified herself as Francess thanked the heavens above after receiving her shot.

“Glory for His name,” she said.

Francess said the inoculation gave her a huge sigh of relief.

“I feel good. No pain, no trouble, no problem,” she said.

Like others across the state, she came to the MDC North site after she learned that the state had lowered the age requirements for the vaccine to age 60 and older.

“I think, and I say, ‘You know, let me just go ahead and get it,’ and there is no long line,” she said. “I wait for at least, maybe 15 minutes.”

Despite the smooth process, Mike Jachles with the Florida Association of Public Information Officers advised those who come to receive their shots to expect long lines and possible long wait times.

“We expect, with the new criteria that’s starting Monday, we’re going to see a busy few days,” he said.

Jachles listed those groups who are currently eligible to receive the vaccine.

“Just to remind everybody, you have to be 60 and over now, with a Florida ID. That’s the first criteria, or you can be a firefighter or police officer aged 50 and over with your ID and get a vaccine,” he said. “Next is our schoolteachers and school staff aged 18 to 49. Anyone who works in a school from pre-K to 12th grade, you can also get a vaccine.”

Younger teachers and school personnel can still get vaccinated but must go to sites run by the Federal Emergency Management Association.

A vaccination site a Bucky Dent Park in Hialeah opened at noon on Monday. Only first-time shots will be given at this location.

Doses will be administered on a first-come, first-served basis.

Over in Broward, Lauderhill is offering vaccines at John Mullin Park to residents who qualify and have scheduled an appointment.

“We’re able to reach our most vulnerable population,” said Lauderhill Fire Rescue Capt. Jerry Gonzalez. “Our residents deep within the community that usually had a rougher time trying to get appointments at other locations, at other sites.”

As of Monday, Florida health officials reported about 7.1 million doses have been delivered in the state, 20.4% of residents have received at least one dose, and 11.4% have been fully vaccinated.

Health officials reported just over 2,800 new cases of COVID-19 statewide.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institutes of Health, warned Americans that while COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and death rates have been declining, people should continue to follow public health guidelines.

“Cases climbed last spring, they climbed again in the summer, they will climb now if we stop taking precautions when we continue to get more and more people vaccinated,” said Rochelle Walensky, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Please follow our recommended public health prevention precautions and be ready to take the vaccine when it is available to you.”

Also on Monday, Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach County governments issued a joint statement condemning Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ Executive Order that strips local governments from collecting fines for COVID-19-related violations.

For more information about vaccination sites in Florida, click here.

If you would like to pre-register for a vaccine at FEMA-run sites in Florida, click here.

Anyone with questions and concerns about the coronavirus can call the Florida Department of Health’s 24-hour hotline at 1-866-779-6121.

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