PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) - More Floridians are now eligible to receive the Coronavirus vaccine after Governor Ron DeSantis issued an executive order declaring all individuals 60 years eligible starting Monday.
At the Pinellas County Department of Health, officials say there are about 80,000 people between the age of 60 and 65 that have been added to the list of people who can get vaccinated, something many are excited about.
Kevin Bryant, a local nursing home administrator says, "Visitors stopped, so you've really seen a population to begin to suffer not only because covid was in the building, but to begin to suffer cognitively because all of a sudden, all human interaction had stopped." He adds the vaccine doesn't just mean protection from COVID-19, it also means bringing happiness to the residents in his care. "You literally have residents throughout the country who have had grandchildren born and great grandchildren born since this pandemic started and they've never met them."
Bryant's hope is that the Governor's executive order to expand vaccine eligibility to people 60 and up will help with that. "I'm ecstatic. I think the vaccine has been absolutely phenomenal," said Bryant.
Thomas Iovino with the Pinellas County Department of Health says, "We're glad to see people getting out and getting the vaccine. It's an encouraging sign."
Iovino says he anticipates demand for the vaccine to increase on Monday once the change went into effect. "Within moments of the site being open, most of the appointments have already been taken." He says vaccine appointments are booked through Friday. "The key to stopping COVID is to get that percentage of people who are vaccinated up."
As those vaccination numbers increase, Bryant hopes the numbers of families reunited does too. "I think they are going to be more apt to come visit. Even now when families come, they are still kind of stand-offish because they are still worried about mom or dad or grandpa or grandma," said Bryant.
Pinellas County Officials say if you are 60 or older, and you don't have an appointment yet, the key is patience. Iovino says as more vaccine are delivered, more appointments will become available.
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