TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida will receive 179,400 doses of the Pfizer vaccine for COVID-19 within a week and use them to inoculate nursing home patients and health care workers most exposed to the virus, Gov. Ron DeSantis said Thursday.
A federal advisory panel endorsed the company’s vaccine Thursday, and the Food and Drug Administration was expected to follow the recommendation within days and approve the first vaccine for use in U.S.
DeSantis said 97,500 doses would go to hospitals in Florida for their most at-risk workers, 60,450 would go to pharmacies CVS and Walgreens to administer in long-term care facilities under state contracts and the remaining 21,450 doses would be administered in the facilities by state-run teams.
“Our top priority is residents of long-term care facilities," DeSantis said in a videotaped message. “They are at the greatest risk and this vaccine could have a positive impact on them, not just protecting them from COVID, but allowing them to return to a more normal life."
“Also, a top priority is health care workers who are in high-risk and high-contact environments,” the governor said.
The initial doses allocated for Florida amount to about 835 per 100,000 people, or less than 1% of the population.
Florida has seen a resurgence in the virus since mid-October and an upswing in deaths starting in early November, following weeks of waning outbreak after the state’s peak in summer.
An average of 106 deaths have been reported per day over the past week, and hospitalizations have hovered around 4,500, up from about 2,200 for much of October, though still less than half the peak of more than 9,500 in late July.
The disease has killed 19,851 people in Florida, which ranks fourth among the states and 18th in per-capita deaths.