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DOH in Alachua County prepared as COVID-19 vaccine eligibility expands: “We have this disease on its knees”

Published: Mar. 25, 2021 at 11:52 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - In less than two weeks, on April 5th, anyone over 18 will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine in Florida. On Monday, the age requirement will be dropping to 40. People are already registering.

Administrator for the Department of Health in Alachua County, Paul Myers, said state leaders’ plan to vaccinate the most vulnerable first is spot on.

“We have this disease on its knees. We want to kill it now,” explained Myers.

RELATED STORY: Fighting COVID: Everything you need to know about where/how to sign up for a COVID-19 vaccine in NCFL

The administrator explains with 76% of the vulnerable population vaccinated in the county, officials can now shift their attention to another group.

“Now it is time to get into the population that is actually spreading this disease. That is individuals in their 20′s, 30′s, and 40′s,” according to Myers.

He believes with the infrastructure that is already in place, along with the partnerships at UF Health and faith-based organizations, they can tackle this challenge head-on.

“We expect to see a great demand for this vaccine,” said Myers. “We are really looking forward to the next 4 to 6 weeks to get everyone who wants to get a vaccine in Alachua County vaccinated.

RELATED STORY: Marion County Department of Health launches new vaccine sign-up website, open for registration now

With roughly 220,000 people over the age of 18 in the county and 72,000 already vaccinated, Myers expects officials with the Department of Health in the county will be able to vaccinate the remaining 148,000 in the next 4 to 6 weeks. As the COVID-19 vaccine becomes available to more groups, two University of Florida students are excited for the opportunity to get vaccinated.

“I’m pretty surprised it was made available so soon. I thought it was going to be available a lot later during this year,” said Antonio De Souza. “I’m happy it is available now. I’m probably going to get it as soon as I can. So, I can not be afraid, not worried.”

RELATED STORY: Governor DeSantis announces all adults will be vaccine eligible April 5th

UF student Ethan Hunt thinks the vaccine makes campus a safer place.

“I think it is incredible. I think it is a great way to expedite the healing process of the pandemic. Especially for college students, widely available to a bunch of people is going to be a great thing,” said Hunt.

As the vaccine becomes available to younger people Myers thinks, education will play an important role. The administrator said it is essential for people to get the vaccine as we try to return to a sense of normalcy.

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