High-risk Floridians under age 65 struggle to sign up for COVID vaccine as state enters next phase of rollout

8 On Your Side

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Florida entered the next phase of its COVID-19 vaccine rollout on Monday as Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a new executive order to allow all K-12 school personnel who are 50 or older have access to the shot.

Gov. DeSantis expanded vaccine eligibility late Friday and again on Monday. Despite those official orders, some people are still frustrated and say they don’t know how or where to make an appointment.

Under the governor’s new orders, high-risk Floridians under 65 no longer have to get vaccinated solely at hospitals. People in that group can now get their vaccine at doctor’s offices and pharmacies like Publix and Walmart too if a physician deems they’re extremely vulnerable to the virus.  

LuAnn Lammers, who is high-risk and 63, thought that sounded great until she actually tried to sign up.

Despite having a doctor’s note, she says she still can’t get into any system to schedule an appointment.

“When you put in your date of birth, it kicks you out of the system,” Lammers said.

We checked and, as of Monday evening, Walmart’s website wouldn’t allow her to register. Gov. DeSantis’ order, signed late Friday, doesn’t explain what documentation she would need or how she could make an appointment.

While she waits for guidance, Florida is expanding access even further. Gov. DeSantis signed an executive order on Monday that would allow sworn law enforcement, firefighters and K-12 school personnel, all over the age of 50, to get vaccinated.

While speaking in Tallahassee, Gov. DeSantis said senior demand for the vaccine has softened.

“This morning…if you went on to log on to make an appointment at one of the Publix pharmacies, it took a lot longer to fill up tens of thousands of slots,” said Gov. DeSantis. “I think that means we’re reaching critical mass.”

Last week, Gov. DeSantis said the vaccine eligibility age would be lowered this month in Florida.  Gov. DeSantis said he believes shots will be widely available by April.

That worries Lammers.

“I just think it’s a little too soon to be expanding it, to just open it up to everybody, because the very technological people are probably going to find a way to get into the system,” she said.

8 On Your Side reached out to the governor’s office to find out how Lammers can sign up for the shot.

Meanwhile, we also learned Monday that Florida will likely get 175,000 doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, perhaps this week. Gov. DeSantis said that should cover all teachers, firefighters and police 50 and older in the state.

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April 24 2021 08:00 am

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