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Alachua County’s largest vaccine event held at Ben Griffin Stadium, 16 and up now eligible

Published: Apr. 5, 2021 at 6:55 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - More than 5,000 people 16 and older signed up to get their vaccine at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at The University of Florida. Doctors said this was the biggest vaccine event to date.

Michael Balint, 18 years old, is a freshman at UF and said he’s been waiting for this moment.

“I’m excited to be done and just ready to take on the world,” said Balint.

UF students and Alachua County residents lined up to get their COVID-19 vaccine. Those who were 16 and 17 could receive the Pfizer vaccine with parental consent.

Related story: All Florida adults now eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccine, teens can get vaccine in certain cases

Associate Professor for the UF Division of Infectious Disease and Global Medicine, Dr. Michael Lauzardo said appointments have been filling up with residents ready to get their shot.

“In an hour we had 3,000 appointments,” Dr. Lauzardo said. “Within 24 hours we had 9,400 appointments and right now we’re at close to 20,000 vaccine appointments for this week alone.”

Balint got his first shot of the Pfizer vaccine. He hasn’t seen his grandparents in almost 8 months.

“I’m excited to see my friends again and hang to with my family especially my grandparents,” Balint said. “I haven’t seen them freely in a little bit, so it’ll be nice to see them.”

Doctors said those under 40 make up three quarters of the spread, so Paul Myers with the Alachua County Health Department said lowering the age eligibility is a vital part of keeping everyone safe.

“In Alachua County right now, we have a simmering pool of 20,30 and 40-year-olds that are actually spreading this,” Myers said. “So, until we get them vaccinated, we’ll continue to have a spread.”

Doctors said 80 percent of the 65 and older community have gotten their shot. So, the month of April is crucial for those 16 and older to get vaccinated.

“If we do April well and get vaccinated at high rates, this ends in June and we get back to normal,” Dr. Lauzardo said.

As for Balint, he hopes those vaccine rates stay high so he can get back to enjoying life, as an everyday college freshman.

“Hopefully, life will get back to being normal and we can get back to doing the things we love,” Balint said.

Doctors do encourage the public to continue wearing masks and social distancing until we reach herd immunity.

For more information on vaccines and how to schedule an appointment Click Here.

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