State vaccine strategy does a 180. DeSantis says doses being reserved for second shots
In a reversal, Governor Ron DeSantis said Tuesday that the state is now withholding COVID-19 vaccines to ensure seniors and healthcare workers can get their second dose.
As hundreds of thousands of Floridians near the 28-day deadline this week to receive their second Moderna vaccine dose, DeSantis guaranteed there would be enough supply to meet demand.
"We're not going to distract second doses from seniors," said DeSantis. “Seniors want it. We will do it. If the implication is that you should pass these doses off to someone else, the FDA has not made it so mandated. "
The announcement, briefly mentioned during a press conference in Vero Beach, was in response to a statement by President Joe Biden's press secretary that Florida had used only half of the federal government's COVID-19 vaccines.
DeSantis was dismayed by the implication that the state was not delivering the doses quickly enough, and said Tuesday that it was holding supplies for second doses.
"We're going to have a second dose for seniors, and if the White House suggests we shouldn't, I think that's not a good suggestion," DeSantis said Tuesday.
DeSantis said the state received 1.7 million "first doses" of the COVID-19 vaccine on Monday.
However, there is no difference between the first and second dose of the vaccine. Although the federal government controls how much the vaccine is distributed to each state, the state controls how much is distributed to hospitals and other providers that administer it. Since this information is not made public, only state officials know who is receiving which care and when.
Amid uncertainty about Florida's weekly federal government allotment, hospitals and other groups have been concerned that enough vaccines are available to ensure people can get their second booster shot. A second dose is deemed necessary to ensure the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine.
So far, DeSantis and his government have mocked the idea of keeping vaccines in the cold store to make sure there are enough second doses, and even threatened hospitals that didn't fire the shots in the arms fast enough.
"I understand the fear," Jared Moskowitz, director of emergency management for the Florida division, told Herald / Times earlier this month. "But if you have a commodity that is very limited and you send it anywhere and that commodity isn't used, would you keep sending the commodity there?"
He added, “The bottom line is to get the vaccine out there in the community. It will be our job to figure out how best to get it out. "
It wasn't clear how many people would not get their first dose as the state is distributing the vaccine to people who need their booster vaccinations.
DeSantis said second shots have already been sent to the places where people received their first doses.
"If you get a shot at Publix three weeks ago, the booster shot will be sent to you so that you have this appointment to do so," he said.
Herald / Times Tallahassee Bureau staff, Mary Ellen Klas and Ana Ceballos, contributed to this report.
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