Coronavirus vaccines are now open to everyone age 50 and up in Florida, but a University of Florida College of Medicine – Jacksonville doctor would like to see that number dropped down to age 16.
Monday marked the first day of the lower age requirement in Florida, down from age 60 and up on Sunday.
WJCT News partner News4Jax reported there were long lines waiting when the Gateway Town Center FEMA site opened Monday morning – longer lines than seen since the site opened weeks ago. There was also extra security and a television production company was setting up in anticipation of Vice President Kamala Harris stopping by the site during a visit to Jacksonville on Monday afternoon.
Appearing on First Coast Connect with Melissa Ross on Monday, UF Health Jax Dr. Mobeen Rathore said that in his opinion it's time to drop the age down to include older teenagers. “I think 40 years and above is good, 18 years old or 16 years old and older is much better. I think we need to get the young folks immunized. We need to get everybody immunized. You know, we need to get the kids immunized.”
Rathore said around the country, only 16.7% of the U.S. population is fully immunized.
Gov. Ron DeSantis said the next step for Florida will be to open up the vaccines to all adults.
The governor said he did not know the exact timing but made clear it would occur ahead of President Joe Biden’s May 1 goal. “I can’t tell you exactly when that will happen, but it will definitely be before May 1,” DeSantis said Friday.
On Monday a change of plans was also announced regarding the federal-run COVID-19 site at Gateway. Instead of switching to second-doses-only this Wednesday, the state announced said the sites will continue to offer up to 500 first-doses-a-day of the Pfizer vaccine through April 6.
Vaccinations will be restricted to second doses only from April 7 through the 14.
Satellite locations will stick with the original plan, offering second doses only from March 24th through April 14.
The one-dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine will be administered from April 14 through the 28, the final 2-weeks the federal sites are scheduled to be open.
More than 2 million Floridians have tested positive for the coronavirus since the pandemic began, and more than 33,000 have died statewide from causes attributed to the virus.
As of March 20, more than 7.4 million Floridians had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 191,783 had been vaccinated with at least one dose in Duval County, according to a Fla. Department of Health report issued on March 21.
The entire interview with Dr. Rathore can be heard on Monday’s First Coast Connect with Melissa Ross, which will encore at 8 p.m. on WJCT News 89.9.