High-risk population in SWFL questions eligibility for phase one of vaccine

Eligibility concerns for first supply of Covid-19 vaccines in SWFL
Posted at 8:13 AM, Jan 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-07 08:45:12-05

CAPE CORAL, Fla. — While the Covid-19 vaccine is being distributed throughout Southwest Florida, knowing who is eligible to be vaccinated can be a bit overwhelming.

“I was a firefighter. I had an accident and I fell through the roof. I have extreme breathing problems and have a suppressed immune system,” said Shawn Joannes, a retired firefighter in Charlotte County.

Joannes served 33 years as a firefighter for the City of Milwaukee and now suffers the lifelong effects of his injuries on the job.

His doctor has told him he’s at high-risk for Covid-19, so he’s been quarantined at home since March.

“I was elated when I first heard about the vaccine coming out. I kept calling and going through the processes you have to do on the phone. You get to a certain point where they say you’re not eligible for it at this time."

Joannes, and many others at high-risk, say they can’t find an answer to when the vaccine will become available. They're concerned it might take several more months.

In the recent order issued by Governor Desantis, it states that the first phase of administration should only be used to vaccinate three groups at this time.

Right now, to be eligible for the Covid-19 vaccine in Florida, you must be one of the following:

  • 65 and older
  • resident or staff at a long-term care facility
  • frontline healthcare worker

The order also adds that hospital provides can choose to vaccinate those they deem extremely vulnerable.

However, Joannes says he's had no such luck.

Fox Four reached out to local health departments but didn’t receive an answer to when high-risk people under the age of 65 would be eligible.

For continuous updates on the vaccine status, people are encouraged to check with their county’s local health department.

To learn more about the recommendations made by the Center’s for Disease Control and Prevention for distributing the initial supply of the vaccine, click here.

Find all the the latest updates for Covid-19 and vaccinations in SWFL posted to Fox Four's Coronavirus webpage.