Nikki Fried wants sick Floridians under 65 to know they can get a COVID-19 vaccine
Image via Colin Hackley.

She released a PSA on the eligibility expansion.

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried released a Public Service Announcement to let Floridians know the state expanded vaccine access to extremely vulnerable populations.

Last week Gov. Ron DeSantis expanded COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to allow Floridians younger than 65 who have high-risk medical conditions to get vaccinated at doctors’ offices and pharmacies.

The Governor signed an executive order allowing physicians, nurses and pharmacists to vaccinate people who “they deem extremely vulnerable to COVID-19.”

The new order does not include state and county run vaccination sites.

Who qualifies as “extremely vulnerable” is left to the discretion of physicians.

The Department of Health released a form Tuesday for physicians to certify their determinations, though determination qualifications are not outlined. instead hinging on physicians agreeing to this statement: “I have determined that the patient is extremely vulnerable to COVID-19 for the purposes of receiving a COVID-19 vaccination in the state of Florida.”

The requirement of a doctor’s note is consistent with remarks DeSantis made at a press conference on Feb. 9.

“I would hate to have a place like Publix, where someone comes in and they’re 35, and they say they have a comorbidity, and then Walmart or Publix has to referee that,” DeSantis said.

As of Wednesday, 1.8 million people in Florida had completed a series of the Moderna vaccine. 1.4 million people received their first dose of the vaccine.

In the PSA, Fried also encouraged Floridians to keep “masking up.”

While Fried’s PSA subtly criticized the Governor for not providing accessible information about vaccine access, it was toned down compared to recent criticism.

“Unfortunately, in Florida, information and access to vaccines has been hard to come by,” Fried said in the PSA.

Fried, the state’s sole statewide-elected Democrat, accused the Governor of vaccine distribution favoritism and requested an FBI investigation Thursday after reports implied wealthy and politically connected individuals received access to vaccines ahead of the broader public after making political donations to the Governor.

“I will not stand by and let our vaccines be used as political gain and to be auctioned to the highest bidders while so many of our Floridians are suffering,” Fried told reporters Thursday.

DeSantis denied these reports.

The Governor told a reporter Thursday, “Total politics. We’re really proud of being able to do vaccines in almost every way imaginable.”

DeSantis said the state has worked with hospitals, health departments and churches to speed up vaccine distribution.

Senate Democratic Leader Gary Farmer also asked the U.S. Department of Justice to probe “potential wrongdoing” by DeSantis.

Meredith Beatrice, DeSantis’ director of strategic initiatives, defended the Governor in a tweet saying, “At the Governor’s direction, Florida has worked with the faith-based community to administer vaccine at 59 sites in underserved communities across the state, administering more than 55,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine.”

Haley Brown

Haley Brown covers state government for Previously, Haley covered the West Virginia Legislature and anchored weekend newscasts for WVVA in Bluefield, W.Va. Haley is a Florida native and a graduate of the University of Florida. You can reach her at [email protected].


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704