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Floridians 40 and up are vaccine-eligible today. What you need to know.

The change adds 2.6 million people to the line for doses. That includes Gov. Ron DeSantis.
People arrive for their vaccination appointments on Monday, March 29, 2021, at Pinellas County’s COVID-19 vaccine site, 1197 E Bay Drive in Largo. The site, which opened in February, is the county’s largest COVID-19 vaccine site.
People arrive for their vaccination appointments on Monday, March 29, 2021, at Pinellas County’s COVID-19 vaccine site, 1197 E Bay Drive in Largo. The site, which opened in February, is the county’s largest COVID-19 vaccine site. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD ]
Published Mar. 29
Updated Mar. 29

Since coronavirus vaccinations started in December, Floridians have been waiting for a day when all adults would be eligible for a shot. That time is finally near, and today marks a key step along the way.

People 40 and older are vaccine-eligible starting today.

Nursing student Emily Peters, 20, of Land O’ Lakes, left, receives the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine from RN Pat Blackwell, with the Pinellas County Health Department, on Monday, March 29, 2021, at Pinellas County’s COVID-19 vaccine site, 1197 E Bay Drive in Largo.
Nursing student Emily Peters, 20, of Land O’ Lakes, left, receives the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine from RN Pat Blackwell, with the Pinellas County Health Department, on Monday, March 29, 2021, at Pinellas County’s COVID-19 vaccine site, 1197 E Bay Drive in Largo. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]

In a week, on April 5, shots open up to those 18 and older. Even 16- and 17-year-olds will be able to get shots at that point, provided they are a certain kind; the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is the only one approved for that age group.

Gov. Ron DeSantis announced the eligibility changes on Thursday. At age 42, he becomes eligible along with his contemporaries and has said he wants to get the one-dose Johnson & Johnson shot when the time comes for his appointment.

Related: We’re getting a shot of optimism along with the COVID-19 vaccine

Lowering the eligibility age from 50 to 40 will add 2.6 million people to the line, according to data from the state’s draft vaccination plan. An additional 6.5 million people will be added when those in their teens, 20s and 30s become eligible next week.

Experts say it appears the vaccine supply will be able to keep up with demand, but they also urge patience, cautioning that it will take time to accommodate everyone who wants a shot.

A tray holds doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, prepared by RN Pat Blackwell, with the Pinellas County Health Department, for distribution on Monday, March 29, 2021, at Pinellas County’s COVID-19 vaccine site, 1197 E Bay Drive in Largo.
A tray holds doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, prepared by RN Pat Blackwell, with the Pinellas County Health Department, for distribution on Monday, March 29, 2021, at Pinellas County’s COVID-19 vaccine site, 1197 E Bay Drive in Largo. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD ]

For details on how and where to get a vaccine in Tampa Bay, consult the Times’ comprehensive guide. Here’s what else you need to know:

  • The vaccines are free to everyone, regardless of insurance status.
  • Make sure you bring a photo ID, such as a Florida driver’s license, that shows your name and date of birth. It’s also important to have proof of your vaccine appointment. This can be a printed copy or a screenshot of your confirmation.
  • If you are eligible for a shot because of your employment, bring something that confirms it, such as an employee ID card or pay stub. If you are seeking a vaccine because you are considered medically vulnerable, you must have a state of Florida form signed by a doctor.
  • Some vaccination sites don’t require appointments. But organizers of those that do have said it’s important you don’t show up early, because it will cause congestion and delay appointments ahead of yours.
  • Be prepared to wait at least 15 minutes after your shot so you can be monitored for any adverse reactions.

In addition to those who are 40 and older, the following groups remain eligible for vaccination: health care workers with direct patient contact; residents and staff at nursing homes and long-term care facilities; and people deemed medically vulnerable who have a signed form from a doctor.

Aaron Clower, left, with the Pinellas County Health Department, checks in nursing student Emily Peters, 20, of Land O’ Lakes, for her vaccination shot on Monday, March 29, 2021, at Pinellas County’s COVID-19 vaccine site, 1197 E Bay Drive in Largo.
Aaron Clower, left, with the Pinellas County Health Department, checks in nursing student Emily Peters, 20, of Land O’ Lakes, for her vaccination shot on Monday, March 29, 2021, at Pinellas County’s COVID-19 vaccine site, 1197 E Bay Drive in Largo. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD ]

Sworn law enforcement officers, firefighters and K-12 school employees aged 50 and older were included in a previous DeSantis order.

At federally controlled facilities like the Tampa Greyhound Track, age no longer matters for educators. Teachers and other school staff, including child care workers, now qualify for vaccines regardless of their birthday. The federal rules, set by President Joe Biden, also apply at participating pharmacies, including CVS, Walmart and Publix.

Nursing student Emily Peters, 20, of Land O’ Lakes, right, sits in a 15-minute observation room after receiving the first of two shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on Monday, March 29, 2021, at Pinellas County’s COVID-19 vaccine site, 1197 E Bay Drive in Largo.
Nursing student Emily Peters, 20, of Land O’ Lakes, right, sits in a 15-minute observation room after receiving the first of two shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on Monday, March 29, 2021, at Pinellas County’s COVID-19 vaccine site, 1197 E Bay Drive in Largo. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]

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