Race to herd immunity begins as vaccine eligibility age opens to 16+ in Florida

Jacksonville, FL. — Today marked an historic day as those 16 and up are now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine in the state of Florida. With easy access to vaccines across the state and Duval county, the next step is getting as many shots in arms as possible.

Local doctors have told us that at the bare minimum, herd immunity is 70 percent of the total population and they’re reminding the younger generations that they play a very important role into getting there.

Recently, Pfizer announced their vaccine is effective through six months of the second dose. Those who had early access are seeing time slip away.

“The clock is ticking for us to get as many people vaccinated,” Dr. Chirag Patel, Assistant Medical Officer for UF Health said.

Now, the younger population has its greatest challenge ahead.

“It’s almost like we’re playing a game of tag. I’m doing my part and now it’s the next phase of the population,” Dr. Patel said. “Their turn to do their part and if we can do this quickly enough, if people line up when they have an opportunity to get their shot and get this done, we can actually get to herd immunity.”

Action News Jax did the math.

As of April 4 in Duval County - 148,376 people have completed their vaccine series.

To reach herd immunity, experts say we need 70-85 percent of the total population to have immunity.

Duval county is currently at 15.5%.

At the current vaccination rate for the last 3 and a half months, it would take a little more than a year to reach 70 percent.

Local doctors say the new age drop of 16+ has potential to speed up this process and Dr. Patel says for those hesitant, they shouldn’t have a worry. He says these vaccines have been studied for decades and that it’s just another step in the healthcare process which begins as soon as you’re born.