ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - Orange County will begin vaccinating those 40 years of age and older at the convention center vaccine site on Monday.
This was a decision Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings made on Thursday, stating that the demand from seniors is down and they want to expand eligibility to get shots in arms, rather than have them expire and go to waste.
"Each day, we have an available supply that is not getting in the arms of Individuals and they don't want it to just sit in storage," he explained. "Up to 3,000 a day can get their shot at the convention center. We are experiencing depressed demand for being vaccinated given the current eligibility criteria for 60-plus-year-old individuals."
He also said that he hasn't asked the governor for permission to lower the age because this site is run by the county, but he has informed state officials of the plan.
The Orange County Convention Center is the only vaccine site in Florida where anyone 40 and older can get a vaccine. They do not accept walk-ups but you can register online at ocfl.net/Vaccine.
You do not have to live in Florida to receive a vaccination there but you must be a Florida resident with a valid form of identification or two bills with a Florida address on them.
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Orange County Commissioner Mayra Uribe predicts people will be storming the gates of their website for the COVID-19 vaccine once the county opens eligibility to people 40 and older.
"I believe those things will get full so quick," she said. "We're going to see that same impact like when 65 and up originally started, we're going to see that for a few weeks when it comes to 40 and up."
Orange County Mayor Demings' decision has not sat well with Governor Ron DeSantis, who announced on Friday that Florida residents 50 years of age and older can receive the COVID-19 vaccine at distribution sites and pharmacies across the state starting Monday.
Governor DeSantis said that Orange County only has 63 percent of seniors vaccinated, which is below the state average. He believes they should focus on vaccinating more seniors instead.
"It’s not his decision to make," he said on Friday. "I would note that Orange County is below the state average in seniors vaccinated. There is 63 percent. Trying to do healthy 40-year-olds over seniors is not a direction I would go."
Commissioner Uribe disagrees with the Governor though.
"We've offered free transportation, information in Spanish, we're going through churches, what else could we do at this point?" she asked. "When you're still not meeting those numbers, we've got to get those vaccines out. Every day we have vaccines sitting that could've gone out is bad on us."
Other eligible groups at the Orange County Convention Center vaccine site are:
- Residents 60+ (40 and up can register for appointments starting Monday)
- Long-term care facility residents and staff (any age)
- Health care professionals with direct patient contact (any age)
- All educators and staff in schools/colleges/licensed daycares (any age)
- Law enforcement officers, corrections, firefighters, and staff at those agencies (any age)
- Extremely medically vulnerable/high-risk
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