Governor: Florida to get up to 2 million coronavirus vaccines by end of year

DeSantis targeting long term care facilities for first doses

KISSIMMEE, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis said he was in Washington, D.C. the week before Thanksgiving meeting with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention along with and the Department of Health & Human Services to secure Florida’s share of Coronavirus vaccines, once they are approved.

“We could potentially have, out of 40 million doses by the end of the month, that’s 20 million people, Florida’s share would be at least a million, maybe as much as 2 million that we’ll be able to do,” DeSantis said. “And if you’re applying that on key areas, that’s going to make a big, big difference.”

The only key area DeSantis mentioned on Monday was long term care facilities.

“The long term care facilities I think are a big priority because that’s where 40% of the mortality nationwide has occurred, for residents of long term care facilities, because they’re in congregate settings where the virus can spread more if it gets in and they obviously usually have 2, 3, 4 co-morbidities and advanced age,” DeSantis said.

The first vaccines that DeSantis expects will be approved and available are Moderna’s and Pfizer’s, both which require two shots - an initial dose and a booster.

[MORE: Here’s what we know about Florida’s plan to distribute a COVID-19 vaccine]

Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine, if approved, will require only one shot.

“We’re not going to have unlimited the first month,” DeSantis said. “I think we pretty much will have one for every American within a few months though, with the J&J vaccine.”

“I just think Floridians should understand that as the initial vaccines rollout, if you’re kind of in those target groups and we’re going to try to get right off the bat, you will need to get a booster. But I think as we get into the new year, if the J&J vaccine proves, ends up being, effective which I think it will be, that’s one shot and so you’re going to be able to get that widely distributed. So we’ve been working very hard on that.”

DeSantis said big name pharmacies will likely partner with the government to offer vaccinations.

“We’ve been working with CVS and Walgreens who have contracts with the federal government for them to go in and do this,” DeSantis said. “Now we obviously are going to decide where the vaccines’ initial alignment goes, we really believe that that’s very, very important.”

DeSantis acknowledged the increase in Coronavirus cases over the past few weeks but insisted Florida isn’t alone.

“In terms of the cases, what was it - a seven day average - we’re 44th in the country,” DeSantis said. “Yes, we’ve seen the cases increase. But look at all the other states that have seen it increase, way, way more. And so I hear people say oh well, Florida is open, and they’re having increased cases. Well, okay, the states that are locked down are increasing at twice the rate we are. If you look at the per capita cases in a lot of these states that have closed schools, businesses shuttered, some of them even post stay-at-home orders.”

Despite reports that some hospitals are at or nearing capacity, DeSantis said hospitals across Florida have 16,000 to 17,000 available beds and Florida is in “really good shape there.”

As of Monday evening there are 4,160 people with the virus hospitalized in Florida, according to the state Agency for Health Care Administration, with 26% of the state’s hospital beds available.

In total, 54,864 people have been hospitalized in Florida after complications from the coronavirus.

About the Author: