TALLAHASSEE – Gov. Ron DeSantis issued a video and written statement to Florida residents who have questions about when and how a COVID-19 vaccine may be available, as news swirls that the shots could be administered before the year is over.
DeSantis’ message on Thursday was the first time he’s issued a comment about the pandemic in weeks. His schedules in recent days show he’s been meeting with hospital CEOs, the division of emergency management, the department of health and the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In the video statement, the governor said Florida has already purchased five million needles, syringes and alcohol swabs that will be used to administer the shots. He said five hospital systems across the state have the ability to store vaccines at the required temperatures.
“The state of Florida has been working to procure the new treatment for our hospitals and has also made plans to assist in the distribution of a safe and effective vaccine, which we believe will be delivered relatively soon,” he said in opening his remarks.
AdventHealth Orlando has already said it will be among one of the first hospitals to receive the vaccine.
Both Pfizer and Moderna have vaccines in the works that could provide protection against the deadly respiratory illness. DeSantis said once they receive FDA approval, 25 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine and 15 million doses of the Moderna vaccine will be made available nationwide.
Since both require two doses, the 40 million shots would be enough to vaccinate 20 million people. DeSantis expects that first round of vaccines to be available by the end of December, although it’s unclear how many doses Florida will potentially receive.
“The good thing about this is millions of doses are ready to ship as we speak. As soon as the FDA approves, they will then go out within the next 24 hours. We expect our hospitals, hopefully, to receive these within the next three to six weeks. It is all contingent on when the FDA approves,” DeSantis said.
CVS and Walgreens will receive vaccines “shortly thereafter, or maybe even at the same time that hospitals are receiving the vaccine” to administer to residents of 2,000 long-term care facilities, who are among those most at risk of dying if they were to contract COVID-19.
“As we move forward, my administration is going to continue to work hand in hand with our federal partners, and we will provide you updates as soon as we have them,” the governor said. “In fact, I was just in Washington, D.C. meeting with the secretary of (the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) and the director of the CDC to ensure that the state of Florida is fully prepared to distribute the vaccine as quickly and efficiently as possible.”
He added that while the vaccine will be available to those who want it, getting the shot won’t be required.
“Our goal is to make all safe and effective COVID vaccines available to Floridians who want them, but the state will not mandate that Floridians take these vaccines. That is going to be the choice of each and every Floridian,” he said.
He also included in his remarks that 3,000 doses of a monoclonal antibody treatment from Eli Lilly have arrived at Florida hospitals within the past few days.
“We are going to continue to work with hospitals and other providers to ensure that qualifying individuals have access to this treatment,” he said.
More than 905,000 COVID-19 infections and 17,900 deaths have been reported across the state.
To read more on what we know about Florida’s coronavirus vaccine distribution plan, click here.