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DeSantis Touts Vaccine Rollout To Seniors Amid Tiff With White House

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SYDNEY BOLES
/
WJCT NEWS
Gov. Ron DeSantis touts vaccine rollout at Jacksonville's River Garden Hebrew Home.

The coronavirus vaccine will have been offered to every resident of Florida’s 4,000 long-term-care facilities by the end of this month, according to Gov. Ron DeSantis.

DeSantis Monday visited Jacksonville’s River Garden Hebrew Home to tout his administration’s efforts.

“In the state of Florida we’re putting seniors first,” DeSantis said. “We believe that our parents and grandparents need to be first in line to get the vaccine.”

The announcement comes amidst a partisan conflict over vaccines between DeSantis and President Joe Biden’s White House.

DeSantis has prioritized front-line health care workers, residents and staff of long-term care facilities, and seniors over 65 in the first stage of the vaccine rollout, contradicting CDC guidance that called for the vaccine to be restricted to those over 75.

“CDC recommended to do workers ahead of the elderly,” DeSantis said. “The mortality statistics did not bear that out, and I felt that you needed to get the vaccine to the folks at the greatest risk of severe COVID outcomes.”

The governor last week dismissed Biden’s plan to enlist vaccination help from FEMA.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki implied there have been shortcomings in DeSantis’ strategy that were partially responsible for a delay in getting vaccinations into arms.

“We’re facts-first here. They have only given out 50% of the vaccine doses they have been given in Florida. So clearly they have a good deal of the vaccine; that supply will need to continue to increase as they are able to effectively reach people throughout the state,” Psaki said.

DeSantis had a different take, arguing that most of those doses have been reserved as second doses for Floridians who already received their first shot.

“Our capacity far outstrips what we’re being given by the feds,” DeSantis said Monday. “They’re in control of this. We were told weeks ago that we would start to see increases now, and we haven't seen it. We’ve been very stagnant.”

Overall, just over a fifth of Floridians 65 and older have been vaccinated so far.

Sydney Boles can be reached at sboles@wjct.org, or on Twitter @sydneyboles.

Copyright 2021 WJCT News 89.9