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Lee County health agencies will work to vaccinate those 65 and older next, per governor’s orders

Instead of vaccinating essential workers after doctors, nurses and people in nursing homes, the governor ordered people 65 and over to be next in line.

Florida Department of Health in Lee County told us it has the vaccine Thursday, and it’s working on a plan to start vaccinating those in the age bracket for COVID-19. More details are expected from DOH-Lee Monday.

What won’t be in the plan are shots for people who work in grocery stores or law enforcement officers.

We’ve watched the doctors and nurses get their shots, same with people who live in nursing homes.

The governor has gone against CDC guidelines — which calls for seniors and essential workers to be vaccinated next — in his decision to order only those 65 and older to be eligible for vaccines in Florida next.

“Makes no sense for someone that is 42 to jump someone who is 72,” DeSantis said. “Data is clear. If there’s one dose left, give it to an elderly person.”

The data DeSantis points to comes from a study done by Harvard’s School of Public Health and the University of Colorado. Researchers found vaccinating younger people slows the transmission of the virus. Focusing on older people prevents more deaths.

Doctors on the front lines understand the governor’s decision, and they urge patience.

“I get that it’s going to take time to get to the population,” Dr. Andrew Pastewski said. “I hope the population is smart enough to take it because we only really get over this in 2021 if everyone wears their mask while they get the vaccine.”

Dr. Larry Antonucci, the president and CEO of Lee Health, said, once his doctors and nurses and staff members who deal with COVID-19 every day get their shots, the system will make plans to help vaccinate the general public who are 65 and older first.

“We’re beginning to put that together now, again, waiting for guidance from the federal and state officials as to what we’re permitted to do,” Antonucci said. “We were permitted to do it. Do they want to do it here onsite, outside? So we’re working through those details right now.”

We also checked in with Florida Department of Health in Collier County about whether it’s working on a plan to vaccinate seniors who are 65 and older, but we did not get a response on Christmas Eve.

Reporter:Zach Oliveri
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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