ORLANDO, Fla. – As Floridians begin celebrating their Easter weekend, many of them are just days away from being eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine.
Starting Monday, anyone 16 and older will be allowed to get the shot. Many appointment portals opened Friday with the new guidelines and filled quickly.
FEMA-backed sites in Florida, including the one at Valencia College’s West Campus in Orlando, will start offering only the single-dose Johnson & Johnson formula for those visiting the site for the first time starting on Tuesday. Those who already received their first dose of Pfizer at one of those locations will be able to return to complete the series.
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The move announced on Friday is meant to streamline the vaccination process at the four FEMA vaccination sites in Florida, each of which can administer 3,000 shots per day.
The Florida FEMA vaccination sites will be open on Easter Sunday, but COVID-19 testing locations at the Orange County Convention Center and Barnett Park in Orlando will be closed on Sunday and reopen Monday.
While the demand remains high, Gov. Ron DeSantis has made it very clear that the shots won’t be required or mandated in any way. He signed an executive order on Friday banning the use of so-called vaccine passports in Florida.
The executive order prevents any Florida government entity from issuing a vaccine passport to prove that a person has been vaccinated for COVID-19. The order also bans businesses in Florida from requiring customers to provide COVID-19 vaccine documentation to gain access or services.
DeSantis said he would also work with the Florida legislature to find a more permanent solution to restrict the use of vaccine passports.
It’s unclear how the measure will affect travel out of the Sunshine State, especially as airlines and other industry leaders say they would support vaccination documentation that could help safely boost travel back to its pre-pandemic levels.
[READ YESTERDAY’S REPORT: People 16+ start registering for vaccine appointments as Florida sees 6,362 new COVID-19 cases ]
Find the state-run COVID-19 dashboard below:
The Florida Department of Health reported 5,869 new cases on Saturday, bringing the state’s overall total to 2,077,032 cases since the virus was first detected on March 1, 2020.
Florida reported 67 new virus-related deaths Saturday, bringing the death toll to 34,306. This number includes the 654 non-residents who died in Florida.
As of Saturday afternoon, there were currently 2,894 people with the virus hospitalized in Florida, according to the state Agency for Health Care Administration.
Since last March, 85,678 people have been hospitalized in Florida after complications from COVID-19. That number includes the 140 new patients who have been recently hospitalized due to the virus, according to the health department’s daily report released on Saturday.
The percent of positive results was 6.31% Friday out of 93,055 tests. The numbers reported daily by the state reflect test results from the day prior. Health officials say the rate should remain between 5% and 10% to prove a community has a hold of the virus and is curbing infections.
The Florida Department of Health began releasing a daily report in December on COVID-19 vaccines administered throughout the state.
FDOH reports 3,597,072 people are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. These individuals either received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine or completed a two-shot series.
As of Saturday, 6,208,000 people have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine.
Below is the Central Florida region breakdown of new cases, deaths and hospitalizations for Saturday.
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