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Florida’s vaccine eligibility age drops to 16 today. Here’s what to know.

The change adds 6.5 million people to the line for shots.
Nursing student Emily Peters, 20, of Land O’ Lakes, receives the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine from nurse Pat Blackwell, with the Pinellas County Health Department, on March 29.
Nursing student Emily Peters, 20, of Land O’ Lakes, receives the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine from nurse Pat Blackwell, with the Pinellas County Health Department, on March 29. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]
Published Apr. 5
Updated Apr. 5

If you’re 16 or older, you now qualify for a coronavirus vaccine in Florida as the state’s age for shots drops again, making it the largest widening of eligibility so far.

People as young as 16 can get the vaccine produced by Pfizer-BioNTech. Those by Moderna and Johnson & Johnson have not been approved for anyone under 18.

The change adds about 6.5 million people to the queue for shots, according to the state’s draft vaccine distribution plan. A week prior, on March 29, Floridians 40 and up became eligible, adding about 2.6 million people to the line.

Related: Live updates from Florida’s first day of open vaccine eligibility in Tampa Bay

Experts and those overseeing local distribution sites have said supply will be able to meet the expected demand. But they’ve stressed patience, too, saying it will take time to work through the millions expected to be seeking shots.

Tampa Bay’s largest site, run jointly by the state and Federal Emergency Management Agency at Tampa Greyhound Track, will administer up to 3,000 first doses per day, as well as offer second doses to those who have already had their first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines, which require two shots.

There are plenty of other sites across the region, at retail pharmacies and various locations set up by county health departments and other groups, like Community Health Centers of Pinellas, Inc., and Tampa Family Health Centers. Check the Tampa Bay Times’ vaccine guide for a list of more than a dozen vaccination locations in the area.

People park to receive COVID-19 vaccines March 19 at the Tampa Greyhound Track, which hosts a mass vaccination site run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
People park to receive COVID-19 vaccines March 19 at the Tampa Greyhound Track, which hosts a mass vaccination site run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. [ MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE | Times ]

Remember that vaccines are free to everyone, regardless of insurance status. It’s important to bring a photo ID with you that shows your name and date of birth, as well as something that confirms your vaccine appointment if required by the site you’re going to. Some sites don’t require appointments. But organizers of those that do have said it’s important that you don’t show up early, because it will cause congestion and delay appointments ahead of yours.

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

Be prepared to wait at least 15 minutes after your shot to be monitored for any adverse reactions. And remember, side effects are normal, even a good thing, experts say. Here’s what you can expect.

If you still have questions about the vaccines, like what’s in them and how they work, you can check the Times’ vaccine Q&A.

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