For Immediate Release: December 23, 2020

Contact: Governor’s Press Office, (850)


Governor Ron DeSantis Announces Executive Order Prioritizing Vaccination for Individuals 65 and Older


Pensacola, Fla. – Today, Governor Ron DeSantis announced Executive Order 20-315, which provides the following: 

During this first phase of vaccine administration, all providers administering any COVID-19 vaccine shall only vaccinate the following populations:

  • Long-term care facility residents and staff;
  • Persons 65 years of age and older; and
  • Health care personnel with direct patient contact.

Hospitals, however, also may vaccinate persons who they deem to be extremely vulnerable to COVID-19.

Governor DeSantis also announced that in addition to hospitals, County Health Departments will begin vaccinating individuals 65 and older in the coming weeks as supply permits. At this time, a limited amount of COVID-19 vaccine has been received by select County Health Departments; as more doses become available, County Health Departments will work with their community partners to provide vaccines to those 65 and older.   

Over the past two weeks, more than 170 hospitals across the state have received doses of the COVID-19 vaccines, and as a part of their allocation, hospitals received enough doses to vaccinate their entire frontline health care staff and have vaccine remaining. 

To read Executive Order 20-315, click HERE. A copy is also provided below.   

To watch today’s press conference, click HERE   




(COVID-19 Vaccine Administration/Protecting Florida’s Seniors)

WHEREAS, on March 9, 2020, I issued Executive Order 20-52, declaring a state of emergency for the entire State of Florida as a result of COVID-19; and

WHEREAS, on November 3, 2020, I issued Executive Order 20-276, extending the state of emergency for the entire State of Florida as a result of COVID-19; and

WHEREAS, the State of Florida is leading the effort to distribute the vaccine to the elderly and vulnerable populations of the State; and

WHEREAS, partnership with local hospitals and other vaccine providers is essential to ensure efficient vaccine administration.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Ron DeSantis, as Governor of Florida, by virtue of the authority vested in me by Article IV, Section 1(a) of the Florida Constitution and by the Florida Emergency Management Act, as amended, and all other applicable laws, promulgate the following Executive Order:

During this first phase of vaccine administration, all providers administering any COVID-19 vaccine shall only vaccinate the following populations:

  • Long-term care facility residents and staff;
  • Persons 65 years of age and older; and
  • Health care personnel with direct patient contact. 
Hospitals, however, also may vaccinate persons who they deem to be extremely vulnerable to COVID-19.

COVID-19 Vaccines

Please see the following information as it relates to Florida’s roll out of the COVID-19 vaccines.  Governor Ron DeSantis held a press conference on December 30, 2020 and addressed distribution and delivery for targeted populations. Regional hospitals and Florida Department of Health local county health departments are the best avenues for people who wish to sign up to receive a vaccination.
You may watch and listen to the entire press conference here:

Governor Ron DeSantis Press Conference on Vaccinations
Executive Order 20-315 – Governor Ron DeSantis signed an Executive Order directing providers to only administer COVID-19 vaccines to the following groups:
  • Long-term care facility residents and staff
  • Persons 65 years of age and older
  • Health care personnel with direct patient contact
  • Persons deemed to be extremely vulnerable to COVID-19 by hospital providers
 Florida Department of Health Vaccine Information – The latest updates from the Florida Department of Health on COVID-19 vaccines in Florida. Includes many of the links and resources found here.
Governor Ron DeSantis Announces Distribution for Allocation of Moderna Vaccine – State of Florida press release on initial distribution of 367, Moderna vaccines including list of receiving hospitals.
Governor Ron DeSantis Provides Updates on COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Plan – Governor Ron DeSantis video announcement.
Fact Sheet For Recipients And Caregivers  - information on the Pfizer-bioNTech covid-19 vaccine.
Fact Sheet For Healthcare Providers Administering Vaccine - information on the Pfizer-bioNTech covid-19 vaccine.
CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Communication Toolkit – CDC information page specifically for the COVID-19 vaccination.
As we look back on 2020, and with the unique challenges it brought, Area Agency on Aging for Southwest Florida (AAASWFL) would like to express its gratitude for all the philanthropic support received to assist older adults in our community.
In 2007, Agnes A. Laitinen, a resident of Sarasota, generously left an endowment to our organization after her passing. AAASWFL is honored to have been entrusted with the stewardship of the Agnes A. Laitinen Unmet Needs Fund. Named in her honor, the fund enables us to assist a large number of seniors in our community to live safely by assisting them financially with needs that would have otherwise gone unmet or emergency situations.
As COVID-19 cases continue to increase locally, maintaining the Agnes A. Laitinen Unmet Needs Fund to assist seniors in crisis is more vital than ever. Your generous gift, no matter the size, can make a difference. Donations to the Agnes A. Laitinen Unmet Needs Fund can be made directly to Area Agency on Aging for Southwest Florida. For details on giving, visit our
website or contact us at (239) 652-6900.
We want to make sure older Floridians never feel alone, especially this holiday season. DOEA and the Northwest Florida Area Agency on Aging have launched Together Apart: Holidays at Heart to ensure seniors are aware of local resources.
Registration required. To register in advance click the date of your preference below.
January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month, 
an important time to spread the word about this sight-stealing disease.

Currently, more than 3 million people in the United States have glaucoma. The National Eye Institute projects this number will reach 4.2 million by 2030, a 58 percent increase.

Glaucoma is called "the sneak thief of sight" since there are no symptoms and once vision is lost, it's permanent. As much as 40% of vision can be lost without a person noticing.

Glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness. Moreover, among African American and Latino populations, glaucoma is more prevalent. Glaucoma is 6 to 8 times more common in African Americans than Caucasians.

Combined with our aging population, we can see an epidemic of blindness looming if we don't raise awareness about the importance of regular eye examinations to preserve vision. The World Health Organization estimates that 4.5 million people worldwide are blind due to glaucoma.

Help Raise Awareness

Talk to Your Family About Glaucoma

In the United States, approximately 120,000 are blind from glaucoma, accounting for 9% to 12% of all cases of blindness. Here are some ways you can help raise awareness:

  1. Talk to friends and family about glaucoma. If you have glaucoma, don’t keep it a secret. Let your family members know.
  2. To learn more visit
  3. Request to have a free educational booklet sent to you or a friend.
Did you know? Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance) covers glaucoma tests once every 12 months if you’re at high risk for glaucoma. 

If you are on Medicare and have questions regarding Medicare’s Preventive and Screening Services, call the Elder Helpline at 866-413-5337 and request SHINE counseling. 


Your Local SHINE-Senior Medicare Patrol Program can assist.

If you are contacted or fall victim to any of the following situations,
please call the Elder Helpline at 866-413-5337 and
request to speak with a SHINE counselor.

JANUARY 2021 Webinar Schedule

SHINE (Serving Health Insurance Needs of Elders)

will be hosting virtual classes for anyone interested in learning more about Medicare!


Medicare Advantage and its Open Enrollment Period (MA-OEP) 
January 1 – March 31

Did you know that Medicare Advantage plans have their own enrollment period?

Yes, they do, and it’s not the same as the one that just ended. If you are dissatisfied with your current Advantage plan you have a single opportunity to switch to a new plan during the first quarter every year.

To learn more, join SHINE on Wednesday, January 27 as we talk in-depth about Part C as well as the option to switch to a new plan by March 31.

Medicare and Enrollment Periods,
there are a few.

Have you heard the saying, “set it and forget it”?  That does not apply to Medicare, changes occur annually even periodically. For instance, did you know that every year, January 1 – March 31, two enrollment periods occur simultaneously?  

*Medicare Part B General Enrollment Period - a chance for someone to enroll in Part B (Medical insurance) if they missed their Initial or Special Enrollment Periods.

*Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period - a single opportunity for someone currently enrolled in an advantage plan, that is not meeting their needs, to switch back to Original Medicare or another advantage plan.


Medicare assistance from the safety of your home, SHINE is here to help.
SHINE trained counselors continue to provide services with your safety in mind; you can speak with a SHINE counselor by phone. SHINE counselors are able to assist with matters related to Medicare, including access to preventive services, cost-saving programs, and identifying and reporting Medicare fraud. 

To request help with Medicare, please call the Elder Helpline at 866-413-5337. To learn more about the SHINE program or Area Agency on Aging for Southwest Florida, visit: or
Last month the Florida Department of Transportation’s (FDOT) Safe Mobility for Life Coalition partnered with the Florida Department of Elder Affairs’ Area Agencies on Aging to distribute informative safety materials through Meals on Wheels programs across the state for Older Driver Safety Awareness Week from December 7-11, 2020.

The goal was to encourage people to stay safe while remaining mobile. With the right resources, people can make informed choices on how to get around and remain independent and active even after transitioning from driving. Online resources to help Florida’s aging population build a transportation plan are also available online. Floridians are encouraged to visit to learn more on how to build and implement a well-rounded transportation plan that fits their unique needs. Find out how to incorporate options such as walking to a nearby transit stop, requesting a ride to a local shopping center, or biking to nearby homes of friends and family.
Susan Alexander, FISH of SANDCAP and Jennifer Vander May, AAASWFL
Locally, in partnership with Area Agency on Aging for Southwest Florida and the Safe Mobility for Life Coalition, F.I.S.H. of SANCAP distributed materials to seniors through various opportunities including its virtual Friendly Faces Lunch where meals were delivered to a participant’s home while participating via Zoom, its senior box program and daily food pantry.

“This is wonderful and beneficial information for our seniors. Thanks again for thinking of us for this partnership,” shared Susan Alexander, Senior Services and Community Engagement Director of F.I.S.H. of SANCAP.

To learn more about F.I.S.H. of SANCAP and support the terrific work they do in our community, visit

Naples Senior Center Virtual Dementia Respite Program

The Naples Senior Center for the last 6 years has run a Dementia Respite Support Program for individuals, residing at home, who have a medical diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias and their caregivers.  This program provides socialization and activities to stimulate short and long term memory, help decrease agitation, reduce anxiety, strengthen communication skills and increase self-esteem. This is an evidence based program that centers on the Brookdale Model and the Teepa Snow model of Positive Approach to Dementia which integrates what is known about functional brain changes that occur with dementing conditions. 

Who Should Participate?
Seniors who want to participate in a program designed to support their brain health and physical wellbeing through discussion, exercise, brain games, and music in a safe and relaxing environment.  

Activities Include:
Brain Fitness Activities
Stretching and Movement
Music Therapy
Peer support and engagement

Programs currently meet via Zoom several times throughout the week. Accommodations for low hearing is available and support with technology assistance is available.

For More Information:
Please contact Simona Staicu-Levy, Dementia Programs Coordinator at
239-325-4444 or

*This program receives funding through the Area Agency on Aging Southwest Florida.
Find Out More
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