Vaccine sites prepare for 18-and-older expansion as thousands get shots on Easter weekend

MIAMI GARDENS, FLA. (WSVN) - Thousands of people across South Florida are taking advantage of Easter weekend to receive their COVID-19 shots, days before the state expands eligibility to include anyone 18 and older.

7News cameras captured hundreds of people lined up at Greater Love Full Gospel Baptist Church in Miami Gardens, Saturday afternoon.

“It’s just very important that we do all we can do to help save lives,” said Pastor Dwayne Richardson with the church.

Starting Monday, the minimum age requirement drops from 40 to 18.

State officials recommend that people 40 and over try to get their shots by Easter Sunday.

“If you’re thinking of getting a vaccine, the perfect time to do it is Sunday from 7 in the morning until 7 at night at the Miami Dade College North, Division of Emergency Management, federally supported site,” said Mike Jachles with the Florida Division of Emergency Management, as he referred to the site in Northwest Miami-Dade.

Jachles said the traffic at vaccination sites across the Sunshine State is expected to increase dramatically beginning next week due to the drop in the age requirement.

“We’re anticipating a very busy week with the new criteria,” he said.

On Tuesday, another big change will go into effect at federally supported sites like the one at MDC North. Moving forward, they will only be administering the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

“No more Pfizer vaccines for first doses,” said Jachles.

Sixteen and 17-year-olds will also be able to get vaccinated starting next week, but only with the Pfizer shot. That means they’ll have to go to one of the other sites still offering it, like Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens.

“The best thing that we can ask people to do is come prepared. Bring your Florida government ID,” said Jachles, “and if you’re bringing a 16 and 17-year-old to get vaccinated, make sure you have that birth certificate or legal document that can prove that’s your child.”

Among those who drove to Hard Rock Stadium on Saturday were Bernardo Reyes.

“I am very happy,” he said. “I came here for the second dose.”

​While some sites will be closed on Easter Sunday, state-run and FEMA-supported sites will remain open.

“We’re asking for everyone’s patience,” said Jachles.

Meanwhile, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said she is considering lifting the countywide curfew if the 14-day average positivity rate is at or below 5.5%. She is expected to make a decision by Monday.

For more information about vaccination sites in Florida, click here. To pre-register, 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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