Florida vaccine eligibility expands to 40+ as Tampa Bay hospitals see slow decline in COVID cases

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POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – The COVID-19 vaccines are now available to any Floridian over the age of 40, a week before it expands to all adults in the state.

“Those folks are still ending up in the hospital. The risk factors of being overweight, or having diabetes, another significant thing we’re worried about for our community,” said Dr. Daniel Haight, an infectious disease and internal medicine doctor at Lakeland Regional Health.

Haight says while COVID-19 hospitalizations have decreased, the hospital hasn’t seen the sharp decline he had expected.

State data shows 42% of the people in Polk County who tested positive for COVID-19 were between the ages of 35-54.

“We have seen some very sad cases of relatively young people getting very sick with covid,” Haight said. “We are very encouraged that the vaccine is now available to more people. It will not only save their lives and improve their chances of outcome but it will help protect others.”

One group of Floridians wait to be eligible – people with disabilities.

“We’re being kind of penalized here and not able to get that vaccine because we don’t fall within those conditions,” said Eddie Hall, president of the Florida Self-Advocates Alliance.

Hall, an advocate for people with disabilities, said if the individual does not feel he or she qualifies as medically-vulnerable, they will not fill out the form necessary to be eligible.

“You’re not able to get that physical activity that a lot of people are able to get because you’re physically challenged. That puts you right there in a vulnerable position,” he said.

For those who want to get the vaccine, Florida’s four federally-supported walk-up sites will remain open until May 26.

The locations are listed below:

Tampa Greyhound Track
755 E. Waters Ave.
Tampa, FL 33604

Valencia College – West Campus
1800 S. Kirkman Road
Orlando, FL 32811

Gateway Mall
5200 Norwood Ave.
Jacksonville, FL 32208

Miami Dade Community College – North Campus
11380 NW 27th
Miami, FL 33167

Residents should also register with their county health departments or the state site. They will then call you to set up an appointment.

Winn Dixie, CVS, Walgreens, Walmart and Publix are also vaccinating people who are eligible.

You can find a vaccine site near you online.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

April 24 2021 08:00 am

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