Why some distribution sites can't vaccinate people under 65 at high risk

Beginning Wednesday, people under 65 who are medically vulnerable will be able to get the COVID-19 vaccine. But, there are still plenty of questions surrounding how people can get them and where. 

People who are under 65 years old and are considered medically vulnerable will be able to get the COVID-19 vaccine at pharmacies, doctors' offices, and some county vaccination sites. 

"It can be deadly to those individuals, so I completely understand their interest and want of receiving the vaccine," said Seminole County Emergency Manager Alan Harris.

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An executive order signed by Governor Ron DeSantis opened up the vaccine to people under 65 who are medically vulnerable, but there's been confusion ever since the order was released. 

The order says, "In addition to hospital providers, physicians licensed under Chapters 458 and 459, Florida Statutes, may also vaccinate persons whom they deem to be extremely vulnerable to COVID-19, and advanced practice registered nurses licensed under Chapter 464, Florida Statutes, and pharmacists licensed under Chapter 465, Florida Statutes, may vaccinate persons determined by a physician to be extremely vulnerable to COVID- 19."

This means that only vaccination sites that have a licensed physician, advanced practice registered nurse or pharmacist can administer the vaccine to this specific group.

"It doesn't say RNs can do it. It doesn't say paramedics can do it," Harris said. 

The staff at the Seminole County site at the Oviedo Mall has the qualifications now required by the state and has started booking appointments, but that's not the case at the Osceola County site, located at 1130 Simmons Road in Kissimmee.

In Osceola County, registered nurses administer the vaccine to the current eligibility groups, but that doesn't meet the new staff requirement to administer it to people who have special conditions under 65. So, that site will not be able to administer the vaccine to the new eligibility group.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Orange County tells FOX 35 News it is waiting on more guidance from the state before opening up the site at the Orange County Convention Center to medically vulnerable people under 65. 

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The best option for people in these areas is to try to book an appointment at Publix Pharmacy, a doctor's office that offers the shot, or a hospital. Publix started offering vaccines to this new group on Monday. Walmart and CVS are expected to open appointments to those under 65 at high risk soon.


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