DORAL, FL – People under 65 with high-risk medical conditions can now get the COVID-19 vaccine at doctors’s offices and pharmacies and not just at hospitals.
Florida Governor, Ron DeSantis, signed an executive order last Friday that allows physicians, advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) and pharmacists to vaccinate people that meet this criteria in Florida. Previously, vaccines for younger than 65 patients were only available through hospitals and each one of them had a different criteria or a group of illnesses listed to decide who to inoculate.
But now patients can get the COVID-19 shots at pharmacies like Walmart and Publix, although not at state-run sites and county health department clinics.
According to state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, D-Orlando, cited by Tallahassee Democrat, people under 65 with one of the illnesses listed as high-risk only needs to show a note from a physician in order to get the vaccine.
“The news of the expansion is huge because for people with comorbidities younger than 65, it’s never been a question of eligibility, it’s been a question of access and availability,” Smith said as reported by Sun Suntinel.
Although Gov. DeSantis initially expressed reluctance to allow retailers to decide who qualifies for a vaccine, advocacy groups for people with a wide range of illnesses, that positions them as high-risk individuals, have been pleading with the state to expand access to the vaccine for those that are medically vulnerable.
According to Tallahassee Democrat, the federal government defines as medically vulnerable people those who are at “increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19” due to the presence of an underlying medical condition as per guide of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Severe illness is defined as hospitalization, admission to intensive care, intubation or mechanical ventilation, according to CDC.
Adults with chronic lung disease, moderate to severe asthma, serious heart conditions, immunocompromised, including by cancer treatments, severe obesity or with diabetes, renal failure, liver disease, chronic kidney disease, Down Syndrome or sickle cell disease are at increased risk of severe illness from the virus that causes COVID-19.