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Floridians 65 and older will get coronavirus vaccine first, DeSantis orders

The first doses could be administered as soon as Monday.
FILE- In this Dec. 16, 2020, file photo, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis watches as nurse Christine Philips, left, administered the Pfizer vaccine to resident Vera Leip, 88, at John Knox Village in Pompano Beach, Fla. Nursing home residents and health care workers in Florida began receiving the Pfizer vaccine. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier, File)
FILE- In this Dec. 16, 2020, file photo, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis watches as nurse Christine Philips, left, administered the Pfizer vaccine to resident Vera Leip, 88, at John Knox Village in Pompano Beach, Fla. Nursing home residents and health care workers in Florida began receiving the Pfizer vaccine. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier, File) [ MARTA LAVANDIER | AP ]
Published Dec. 23, 2020
Updated Dec. 23, 2020

TALLAHASSEE — Floridians 65 and older will be the first in the general population to be vaccinated for COVID-19, with the first doses administered as soon as Monday, Gov. Ron DeSantis said Wednesday.

DeSantis signed an executive order ensuring that older Floridians will be the first in the general population to receive vaccines. Health care workers and people in long-term care facilities, who are most vulnerable to the virus, are being treated already, and DeSantis said the state has administered 70,000 shots already.

Florida coronavirus cases by age group

Doctors say older people are at a greater risk to developing severe symptoms from COVID-19, which makes Florida especially vulnerable.

With more vaccines arriving, DeSantis said the state was ready to expand the vaccines to people over the age of 65.

Related: Have coronavirus vaccine questions? We have answers, Florida.

The treatments will be administered by hospitals and county health departments as early as Monday, but DeSantis did not say how people could sign up to be vaccinated. He said those details will be available closer to Monday.

“Bear with us,” he said.

Those health departments won’t include Tampa Bay on Monday, though. A spokesman for the Hillsborough County Department of Health said vaccines for the area will be available “in the coming weeks,” but they won’t have them available on Monday.

On Tuesday, DeSantis said he wanted to vaccinate the more than 3 million Floridians over the age of 70 over the next six weeks, giving them priority over essential workers and younger people with underlying health conditions.

“The vaccines are going to be targeted where the risk is going to be greatest, and that’s in our elderly population,” DeSantis said Tuesday. “We are not going to put young, healthy workers ahead of our elderly, vulnerable population.”