Expanded vaccine eligibility leads to frustration

Reporter: Nicole Gabe Writer: Joey Pellegrino
Published: Updated:
The vaccine registration page on the Publix website. Credit: WINK News

If you are under 65 and extremely vulnerable to COVID-19, you will need a special form from your doctor before you can get your vaccine. But the form’s purpose, fulfilling Gov. Ron DeSantis’ order to expand vaccine eligibility to some people under 65, is controversial.

People over 65 who still haven’t gotten vaccinated say making more people eligible for the vaccine is adding more stress. One Cape Coral man, Alan Grudzien, has tried to get an appointment three times a week, every week since January—no luck.

“How could they be doing 55 and over when I’m going to be 70 years old and they haven’t even… they haven’t even taken care of the ones 65 and older yet, and you can’t even get a shot,” Grudzien said. “They’re gone in 30 minutes. Why aren’t they bringing more shots to these counties?”

But the Florida Department of Health in Charlotte County says the order’s goal is to prevent infection and death.

“The overarching strategy of this overarching piece is to prevent hospitalizations and loss of life,” said FDOH-Charlotte administrator Dr. Joseph Pepe. “So when you look at it from that strategy, we are trying to use a targeted, data-driven approach on how we’re preventing those who are having extremely low health outcomes from having those experiences, and we can reverse-engineer that.”

“Let’s take care of business that’s at hand right now and not try to mix us up with a bunch more people, so the ones that are 65 and over can still get the shot,” Grudzien said.

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