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Governor DeSantis Expands COVID-19 Vaccine Eligibility

TAMPA, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) - More people are now able to get the COVID-19 vaccine in Florida. On Friday, Governor Ron DeSantis expanded COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to people under 65 who are at high risk, and Monday he also expanded it to school employees and law enforcement officers.

Marguerite Martinez, Sarasota County resident, says "We just have to figure out new ways. Maybe that involves the public library helping people sign up." Martinez says she's had trouble trying to get an appointment for the COVID-19 vaccine, and more than anything, she wants her daughter to get the shot. She added, "My daughter is 18 but she is a patient at Johns Hopkins All Children's in the neurology clinic and has a complex medical history."

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But on Monday, she was able to make two appointments at Publix after Governor DeSantis made some changes to the current executive order. The updated executive order says licensed physicians and nurses may vaccinate people under 65 who are determined to be extremely vulnerable to COVID-19. "Absolutely fantastic. She's a remote student who really needs to be back in school," said Martinez.

When it comes to schools, the Governor said in a press conference Monday, he's making some adjustments. DeSantis says, "I'll be signing an executive order today to expand vaccine eligibility to all sworn law enforcement officers age 50 and above, all firefighters age 50 and above and all K-12 school personnel age 50 and above."

Christopher Tittel with the Manatee County Health Department says "To me, this would be an indication that we are doing a good enough job reaching that 65 and older crowd that the governor is comfortable opening this up to more categories."

DeSantis says he's expecting the new Johnson & Johnson doses to be delivered to Florida over the next week. "With the schools, we probably could, we could do all the fifty K-12 personnel and police, fire with just our J & J shipment," said DeSantis.

Martinez says she's excited to see these changes being made.

"As a substitute teacher with health conditions, I'm very nervous about being in a classroom and it's because I'm nervous about being exposed to COVID and I think with a vaccine, that variable will be removed," said Martinez.

The CDC states people at high risk of severe illness from COVID-19 include those with cancer, heart conditions, type two diabetes and more.

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