More than half of Florida seniors vaccinated for COVID-19

More than half of all Florida seniors have now been vaccinated for COVID-19, an important milestone in Florida’s "Seniors First" plan to vaccinate its most vulnerable citizens. Florida reached the 50% mark on Friday, according to figures released Saturday on the Florida Department of Health’s COVID-19 website.

The numbers indicate that Florida is in the final stretch of reaching Gov. Ron DeSantis’ goal of vaccinating "every senior who wants to be vaccinated". According to an AP Poll released February 10, 67% of seniors nationwide say they want to be vaccinated.

Florida’s vaccination program began in early January with a focus on essential health care workers and senior citizens. As of Friday, 2,973,782 Floridians had received at least one dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, including 2,256,760 Florida seniors (65 and over).

While it takes two shots spaced several weeks apart to be fully vaccinated with the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, the first dose can provide some protection against COVID 19. In documents provided to the F.D.A., Moderna said its vaccine is roughly 80% effective after the first dose, while Pfizer reported its vaccine to be 52% effective after the first dose – although it takes several days (up to 12) for immunity to take hold. The second shot of both vaccines, several weeks later, boosts immunity to 95%.

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In the Tampa Bay Area, vaccine rates are climbing at a pace just below the state average. In Hillsborough County, 94,602 seniors (48%) had been vaccinated by Friday.  Pinellas County is right behind, with 46% of its seniors having received at least one dose of vaccine. Sarasota has vaccinated the greatest percentage of its total population (20%) – and 44% of its senior population.

Here is how each of our local counties stacks up: