Vaccine sites see uptick in people with new 60+ eligibility criteria

Published: Mar. 15, 2021 at 5:31 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Vaccine sites in Tallahassee saw a big uptick in people getting their first shot on Monday after Governor Ron DeSantis expanded the eligibility criteria to include those 60 and older.

Previously, only residents 65 and older were eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine; the governor says he’s expecting to lower the age range in five-year increments as supply increases and demand softens.

FAMU’s Al Lawson Center saw a boost in people Monday morning; 70 people visited the site in just the first two hours. The site can vaccinate 200 people each day.

Charles Pelham Junior, a FAMU graduate, came to the Lawson Center to get his first shot.

“Right now I feel good, feel good,” said Pelham. “It was nice and easy. You have nothing to worry about. They take good care of you.”

Michelle Herndon has been anxiously waiting for her shot.

“As soon as I found out last week that they were opening up, I said, ‘Ok, today is the day,’” said Herndon.

She has two daughters in the medical field; Herndon is the last in her family to get vaccinated.

“My youngest daughter, I haven’t seen her in over a year,” said Herndon. “And my daughter in Tampa, I saw her just for a few days in November. And before that it was a whole year!”

Herndon’s first priority: hugging her daughters.

She also recently retired from a job at the U.S. Post Office.

“I’d like to travel; I haven’t done much since I retired,” said Herndon.

Elected officials are also utilizing FAMU’s Lawson Center site.

Florida House Representative Scott Plakon turned 62 last weekend and celebrated by getting his first shot.

“I feel great,” said Rep. Plakon. “I got down here at 11:00 a.m. the first day of eligibility, because I ran the math. Getting the vaccine, there’s a very very small chance of any type of an adverse reaction. Not getting the vaccine, there’s a chance you could die.”

All three say the more people who get vaccinated, the better. They say herd immunity is the only solution to the pandemic.

“That’s the way we’re going to get back to normal, or as close to normal as possible. So please go get vaccinated,” said Pelham. “Don’t listen to the nonsense.”

“Educate yourself, and then make the decision that is best for you,” said Herndon.

Local leaders are also encouraging the community to get vaccinated.

City Commissioner Curtis Richardson and other elected officials have expressed concerns about a disproportionately low number of African Americans receiving the vaccine, compared to the population living in Tallahassee.

“I am 64 years old and proud. I have had my 2 Pfizer vaccinations through my primary care physician at Capital Health Plan,” said Commissioner Richardson. “So I strongly encourage others-- I’m leading by example-- I strongly encourage others to get their vaccinations

Richardson says when it’s safe, he’d like to visit his two brothers in Jacksonville; he also says he’s looking forward to safe community gatherings again.

The Lawson Center at FAMU is a walk-up site that does not require an appointment.

TMH has opened an appointment site; you can visit that here.

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