OKEECHOBEE -- Florida will drop the age for qualification for COVID-19 vaccinations to 40 as of March 29 and to age 18 as of April 5 according to information shared at the March 25 meeting of the Okeechobee County Commissioners.
Public Safety Officer Ralph Franklin made the announcement at the meeting, first making the announcement about those over 40 and later updating it to add the April 5 date for those over age 18.
Go online to https://myvaccine.fl.gov/ or call to use the state vaccination waitlist for COVID-19 appointments. Call 866-201-1060 to make an appointment in Okeechobee County; 866-201-6745 for Hendry County; 866-201-6695 for Glades County; 866-201-7037 for Martin County; 866- 201-4885 for Collier County; 866-200-3858 for Highlands County; 866-201-7013 for DeSoto County. (Palm Beach County residents can sign up for a vaccination appointment at http://vaccine.hcdpbc.org/or call 561-804-4115.)
Proof of Florida residency is required.
To prove residency an adult resident must provide a copy of his or her valid Florida driver license or a copy of a valid Florida identification card issued by the state.
Those who do not have a Florida driver license or ID card may provide a copy of two of the following to show proof of residential address:
1. A deed, mortgage, monthly mortgage statement, mortgage payment booklet or residential rental or lease agreement.
2. One proof of residential address from the season resident’s parent, step-parent or legal guardian or other person with whom the seasonal resident resides and a statement from the person with whom the seasonal resident resides stating that the seasonal resident does reside with him or her.
3. A utility hookup or work order dated within 60 days before registration.
4. A utility bill, not more than 2 months old.
5. Mail from a financial institution, including checking, savings, or investment account statements, not more than 2 months old.
6. Mail from a federal, state, county, or municipal government agency, not more than 2 months old.
In a March 25 video release, Gov. Ron DeSantis explained: "Florida’s Seniors First vaccine strategy is paying off — more than 3.2 million seniors age 65 and older have received shots. We’ve been able to expand eligibility to those age 50 and above and we’ve seen additional success.
"Now because of this success, I am pleased to announce additional vaccine eligibility expansions. While the Biden administration set a May 1st target date for vaccine eligibility for all adults, Florida is pleased to announce that all adults in the state age 18 and older will be eligible for the vaccine beginning Monday, April 5.
"And this coming Monday, March 29, the age of eligibility for the vaccine will be reduced from 50 to 40.
"We have now vaccinated over 70% of the roughly 4.4 million seniors living in the state.
"We have also made great progress on those age 60 to 64 and those age 50 and older. And we are ready to take this step.
"If you look at the hospitalization and case rates for senior citizens, they have plummeted since the start of our Seniors First strategy.
"And we want to keep up that momentum as we expand eligibility to other age groups throughout the state of Florida.
"Florida continues to rank 41st in senior mortality per capita, with 40 states having higher mortality for COVID on a per capita basis than the state of Florida.
He said these include 730 Publix pharmacies., more than 150 CVS locations, more than 125 Sam’s Club and Walmart locations and more than 70 Winn-Dixie locations.
"And in the coming days, Walgreens will be expanding to more than 400 additional locations, bringing their total to more than 600 Walgreens pharmacy locations statewide," said DeSantis.
"No mandate, but access for all, he said.
Florida has many sites providing COVID-19 vaccine. Use the vaccine finder to find a site near you: Go online to https://floridahealthcovid19.gov/vaccines/vaccine- locator/.
Medicaid transportation - If you have Medicaid and need a ride to get a COVID-19 vaccination, Florida Medicaid will take you to get the COVID-19 vaccine at no cost. First set up a time to get your vaccine. Next, let your Medicaid plan know you need a ride and they will take care of the rest. If you are not enrolled in a Medicaid transportation plan, call the Medicaid Helpline at 1-877-254-1055 to find out the name and phone number for a transportation service.
Okeechobee County Library offers help
Staff at the Okeechobee County Library are available to assist with registering for an appointment, prechecking residency documentation, assisting with consent forms, or other appointment related questions by calling 863-763-3536.