Florida expands vaccine eligibility to age 50 and over

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) – The number of Floridians eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine expanded on Monday as the state allowed anybody age 50 and up to get the shot, and the county that is home to the state’s biggest theme parks set the bar even lower by allowing anyone age 40 and up to get an injection.

With the loosening of the statewide qualifications, more than a third of Floridians were now eligible to get a vaccine solely based on age at all vaccination sites in the state.

Starting Monday, Orange County expanded the age eligibility a decade lower than the statewide requirement at its county-run facility at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando. Reservations were required for the drive-through site at the convention center, and people attempting to book a spot online found themselves taking more than a hour to secure an appointment.

In expanding the eligibility, Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said last week there has been decreasing demand at the convention center site. He said he had notified the state and felt he had the authority to expand eligibility in the county.

“I don’t feel like I have to get permission to be the mayor of Orange County from Tallahassee,” Demings said.

Despite the expansion of eligibility, a union for some workers at the state’s largest employer, Walt Disney World, said it should also include hospitality workers.

“If the Hospitality industry is essential to our economy, then so are we as workers!” Unite Here! Local 362 tweeted.

Until the latest eligibility expansion, only people age 60 and older, health care workers, law enforcement, firefighters, school employees and people considered medically vulnerable by a doctor were eligible for the vaccines.

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