All adults in Florida will be eligible for COVID-19 vaccines beginning Monday – and we sincerely hope they’ll take advantage of that important opportunity.
Until recently, the vaccines had been available almost exclusively to seniors but Gov. Ron DeSantis starting lower the eligibility age after more 70 percent of the state’s residents 65 and older – more than 3.2 million seniors – took the vaccine. Over the past several weeks, the eligibility age has steadily dropped and beginning Monday, all adults can get the coveted vaccinations, as well as those ages 16 and 17 with parental permission.
DeSantis’ decision to eliminate the eligibility age for the vaccinations came on the same day that President Joe Biden held his first news conference and doubled his original goal of 200 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered during his first 100 days in office. The president’s original goal was 100 million vaccinations given, which was accomplished before his 60th day in office.
Biden, in his first primetime address last month, had directed all states, tribes and territories to make all American adults eligible for the vaccine by May 1, with the goal of small get-togethers among families and friends being a possibility by the Fourth of July. DeSantis had quickly vowed to beat that goal, which he did.
The elimination of the eligibility age certainly comes at a good time, as COVID-19 cases are on the rise again across the Sunshine State again. On Friday, Florida was reporting 6,580 new cases – a number that was starting to rise following huge influxes of high school and college students from across the country for spring break.
So far, Florida has suffered through 2,071,105 cumulative cases of the deadly virus, with 83,109 COVID-19 cases in long-term care centers and 31,657 in correctional facilities. Across the state, there have been 34,239 deaths and 85,538 people have been hospitalized.
The opening of vaccines also comes at a good time for the local area, as The Villages recently reopened all three town squares with no barricades and crowd limits. Florida’s Friendliest Hometown saw a spike in cases shortly thereafter, which logically could be connected to a variety of factors besides crowded town squares, such has relatives visiting from across the globe for spring break.
Another reason could be the continued increase in COVID-19 cases at The Villages Charter School, where seven were identified this past week alone. Since August 2020, the school has reported a whopping 92 cases among students, which represents 42.4 percent of all cases among students in Sumter County public schools. Those charter school students, by the way, constantly use and/or work at various businesses across The Villages and interact with thousands of residents on a daily basis.
As we said earlier, we highly encourage adults across the Sunshine State to get vaccinated against this terrible virus that could hit any of us and devastate our families and friends at any given time. Sure, you might have a sore arm or feel a little under the weather after getting the doses – many residents have reported feeling like they had the flu after the second Moderna vaccine – but it certainly beats the alternative of battling a deadly virus that claims lives with no rhyme nor reason.
Of course, it’s also important to remember that your highest level of protection comes two weeks after getting the second dose of the vaccine. That means you shouldn’t get the vaccine at 10 a.m. and hang out with a large crowd of people two hours later – a concept that some Floridians seem to struggle understanding.
Finally, after getting the vaccine, it’s imperative to keep practicing the safety measures that have proven effective against the Coronavirus. Keep wearing masks in public settings, practicing social distancing and washing your hands and using hand sanitizer on a regular basis.
If we all do our part, we can put a serious dent in the number of new COVID-19 cases being reported on a daily basis. That said, getting vaccinated should be at the top of everyone’s priority list.