Governor Ron DeSantis signed an executive order Friday allowing for pharmacies like Publix and Walmart to give the shot to those with underlying conditions.
Lisa Nejjar and her daughter both have underlying health conditions.
“I could use a vaccine so that I don’t have to worry about COVID attacking my body on top of my own body attacking itself,” Nejjar said.
Nejjar, and many across Florida with underlying health conditions, are now able to get a vaccine at a pharmacy or at a doctor’s office.
Prior to Friday, only hospital staff were able to vaccinate those under 65-years-old with comorbidities. The change came when Governor Ron DeSantis signed an executive order Friday allowing doctors’ offices, pharmacies, like Walmart and Publix, and advanced practice nurses to vaccinate people who are under 65 and medically vulnerable.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, medically vulnerable is defined as at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19, and includes the following medical conditions.
- Chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
- Serious heart conditions
- Severe obesity
- Underlying conditions like diabetes, renal failure, or liver disease
- Chronic kidney disease, Down Syndrome, Sickle Cell disease
State sites and county health departments are not vaccinating this group right now. If you get an appointment, bring proof of eligibility, like a note from your doctor. According to state officials, caregivers of those who are medically vulnerable can’t get the vaccine yet.
According to both a Walmart and a CVS spokesperson, staff at both pharmacies are currently updating the online scheduling systems to reflect the new eligibility.
Walmart said in a statement:
“This weekend Governor DeSantis issued an Executive Order broadening the eligibility criteria. We are in the process of updating our internal processes and the scheduling system to reflect new eligibility.”
First Coast News is waiting to hear back from Winn-Dixie regarding the latest change.
Currently on Walmart’s website, if you click on the “emergency medical services” option, it will then prompt you to answer questions about your chronic illness. FCN’s Leah Shields, who has congenital heart disease, was able to get an appointment this way.
Shields said she told the pharmacists at Walmart about the executive order, and they had to make phone calls confirming the news before vaccinating her.
When FCN asked state officials what, if anything, they are doing to inform pharmacies and doctors’ offices about the latest change, a spokesperson responded, “The state updates their COVID-10 website frequently.”
Appointments at Publix were booked as of Monday. The next chance to register for an appointment is Wednesday at 7 a.m.