Florida's largest and final vaccine eligibility expansion starts Monday

Starting April 5, everyone over the age of 16 here in Florida will be eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine. It is the largest and final expansion of the state’s rollout of shots.

It is long-awaited relief for millions of people and brings us one step closer to ending the pandemic.

"I just want us to get back to normal, I want to see my family in Canada, I want them to see us, I just want things to resume," said Tari-Lynn Brkljacic.

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So far, nearly 28% of Floridians have received at least one dose of the shot.  But we still have a long way to go.

"We’ve got 12.2-million Florida residents who have not been vaccinated at all who are of vaccine eligible age, that’s 16 and above," explained USF College of Public Health associate professor of epidemiology, Dr. Jason Salemi. "Six million of those individuals who are not vaccinated are in the 16- to 39-year-old age group."

Meaning next week, up to 6-million new arms will be in line for a jab.  Vaccination sites are gearing up for the rush, and the state is set to receive a record number of doses.

"I think it’s a good sign that people are realizing the vaccine is a really good thing for my own health, the health of my family and community and getting back to some semblance of normalcy," Salemi said.

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According to the CDC, 1,321,300 first and second doses of vaccines will be shipped to Florida next week. The shipment includes 313,200 from Johnson & Johnson -- more than double the amount that was sent this week. 

The state is also set to receive 217,400 first doses of Moderna, up by more than 9,000, as well as 286,650 Pfizer first doses, a dip of nearly 66,000 from the week before.

"If you want a vaccine starting on Monday you’ll be able to sign up, you may have to wait a few days, you may have to wait a week, maybe even two to get those appointments, but we will have doses available to you, and it’s really important we have as many people vaccinated as possible," said Salemi.

Experts say even people who are low-risk should get the coronavirus shot because they can still contract the virus and infect someone more vulnerable.

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