florida-vaccinate-65-and-older Steve Brandwene, a healthcare worker, 64 years old, receives a Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine at Research Centers of America in Hollywood, Florida, on Dec. 18, 2020.
Photo by Eva Marie Uzcategui Trinkl/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Florida and Texas have begun to vaccinate people 65 and older ahead of frontline essential workers, following state governors’ orders.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explicitly outlines the order of the COVID-19 vaccine distribution. First in line are healthcare personnel and residents of long-term care facilities, followed by essential frontline workers and people age 75 and older. Next in line are people over 65, and 16 through 64 who have underlying medical conditions, and other essential workers. However, in Florida and Texas, officials there are changing the order of distribution. 

Florida and Texas have both begun to vaccinate people 65 and older, bypassing CDC guidelines of putting essential frontline workers before them. 

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“The problem is people that are 73, 74 would be in the back of the line for a young 21-year-old worker who’s considered ‘essential.’ That doesn’t, I think, make sense,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said on Dec. 23 at a press conference at a Pensacola hospital.

That same day, DeSantis signed an executive order outlining the state’s first phase of the COVID vaccine. Florida’s phase one order includes long-term care facility residents and staff, and people 65 years and older, followed by health care personnel with direct patient contact. The executive order also states that hospital providers may vaccinate persons whom they deem to be extremely vulnerable to COVID-19. 

In Texas, where more than 70% of COVID-19 deaths have occurred in people 65 and older, officials prioritized that age group and have begun to vaccinate them first

“The focus on people who are age 65 and older or who have comorbidities will protect the most vulnerable populations,” said Imelda García, EVAP chair and DSHS associate commissioner for laboratory and infectious disease services, on Dec. 21. “This approach ensures that Texans at the most severe risk from COVID-19 can be protected across races and ethnicities and regardless of where they work.”

For those 65 and older who want to get the COVID vaccine, click here for more information on Texas locations. 

In Florida, on Dec. 28, Seminole County began to vaccinate people 65 and older. In Lee County, people are now in line, waiting for hours to get vaccinated. However, medical officials said only 300 doses would be administered

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For Those 65 and Older: Where to Register for the COVID Vaccine in Florida

Brevard County 

By appointment only. Vaccinations begin for people 65 and older on Jan. 4. Residents should call 321-454-7141 to make a COVID-19 vaccine appointment. The vaccine site will be a drive-thru located at 2555 Judge Fran Jamieson Way in Viera. 

Lake County

By appointment only. Lake County will begin vaccinating people over 65 on Dec. 30. To register, people who qualify should call 352-742-4830. Click here for more information.

Marion County 

By appointment only. To request a vaccination appointment, click here

Orange County 

By appointment only. Residents can register at OCFL.net/vaccines, where they can also sign up for email updates to learn more about vaccine distribution. Here is the direct link to register.

Osceola County 

By appointment only. Residents must call 407-343-2000 to register.

Seminole County 

By appointment only. People can make an appointment by going to prepareseminole.org or by calling 407-665-0000. 

Volusia County 

The first drive-thru vaccination clinic will begin Jan. 4 and 5 at Daytona Stadium at 3917 LPGA Blvd. Information also will be posted online at Volusia.org/coronavirus.