Florida lowers vaccine eligibility age to 50 starting Monday, here’s how to try and get one in Tampa Bay

Orange County is opening its convention center appointments to those 40 and over.

Citing what he called “modest demand” among those eligible so far, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said that he’ll lower the coronavirus vaccine eligibility age to 50 starting Monday, March 22.

Those 50 and older join a pool of eligible Floridians that already includes frontline health care workers, residents and workers at long term, K-12 educators, and those who fall under the “high risk” category.

The Friday announcement from DeSantis comes as those still ineligible for a coronavirus vaccine maneuver to try and get on local waste protocol lists—where extra doses from canceled appointments go to anyone, regardless of eligibility, as to prevent waste—at grocery stores and pharmacies. Many of those vaccine providers (think Winn-Dixie, CVS, Walgreen, Publix and Walmart) have started to close their waste lists as they grow in size. Others seeking shots have joined vaccine hunter Facebook groups to try and find extra coronavirus vaccine shots in and around Tampa Bay.

Anyone eligible for a coronavirus shot in Tampa Bay has a few ways to get one. One quick way to try and find a site is via vaccinefinder.org.

In the Tampa Bay area, new temporary walk-up, first-come, first-served FEMA COVID-19 vaccination sites—operating from 9 p.m.-5 p.m.—recently opened.

  • City Life Church 8411 N Dale Mabry Hwy., Tampa. That site is open now through March 20.
  • Larry Sanders Sports Complex 5855 S. 78th St., Tampa. That site is open through March 23.
  • Oakland Community Center 1008 Avenue D., Haines City. That site is open through March 23.

Those sites join Tampa Bay’s two big existing coronavirus vaccination sites in both Hillsborough and Pinellas counties.

  • FEMA vaccination site at Tampa Greyhound Track 755 E Waters Ave. open 7 a.m.-7 p.m. No appointment necessary. (That site is unfortunately moving to only giving second doses only by next week. Translation: if you’re eligible, get over there now, no appointment necessary).
  • Raymond James Stadium 4201 N Dale Mabry Hwy., Tamp. 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Appointments are required, however, at the RayJay site (visit myvaccine.fl.gov for information).

Hillsborough residents who set up appointments via patientportalfl.com may also utilize several Hillsborough County health department locations including:

  • Ed Radice Sports Complex 14720 Ed Radice Drive, Tampa
  • Vance Vogel Sports Complex 13012 Bullfrog Creek Rd., Gibsonton
  • TPepin’s Hospitality Centre 4121 N. 50th St., Tampa.

Tampa Family Health Center locations are also offering select coronavirus vaccine drive-thru events through March 27. More information on those is available via tampafamilyhc.com.

There’s no large FEMA vaccination site in Pinellas county, but eligible residents there still have several options to try and find one including three locations for Community Health Centers of Pinellas. All three sites have different hours and require you to sign up for appointments online (patientportalfl.com) or by phone (844-770-8548)

  • 707 Druid Rd., Clearwater
  • 7550 43rd St., N, Pinellas Park
  • 1344 22nd St. S, St. Petersburg

The Tampa Bay Times has a guide that includes details on how to get coronavirus vaccines in Pasco and Hernando counties.

Some basics to bring when you go to get your vaccine, regardless of where you get it, include:

  • A photo ID like a Florida drivers license—or some kind of document proving your residency in the Sunshine State (think water bill, mortgage statement)
  • Job ID or pay stub  if your employment makes you eligible (teachers, first responders)
  • Doctor-signed “extreme vulnerability” form if you fall under that category

DeSantis’ announcement came a day after Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said they would begin vaccinating anyone aged 40 and over next week.

The county-led vaccinations are carried out at the Orange County Convention Center and appointments for next week are available now.

Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said that he made the decision to lower the age requirements in the county, going beyond the current statewide eligibility requirements of 60-plus years of age, and does not expect any resistance from the state.

“At the end of the day the Governor wants the best for the residents of Florida and Orange County,” Demings said. “We’ve done a fairly good job with our seniors, and now we have to kind of move to middle young adults."

The Orange County Convention Center site administers 3,000 shots per day and Demings hopes to increase that number along with the loosened restrictions.

Reporting from our sibling paper Orlando Weekly appears in this post.

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