TAMPA, Fla. — At a roundtable discussion on mental health in first responders impacted by the pandemic, Governor Ron DeSantis said Florida has strike teams ready to vaccinate the state's most vulnerable groups.
Florida expects to receive about 180,000 doses from Pfizer.
"I think we have a good plan, but at the end of the day, there's not gonna be enough for everyone in the country right off the bat, not even close," DeSantis said. "One dose of this Pfizer we are finding is protective."
Strike teams are in place to get the vaccine into the arms of an anxious public. But, DeSantis said demand for this first round isn't as high as one might expect.
"Now, I think what the hospitals are finding is there is about a 50% rate of saying they want to take it right now," DeSantis said. "So, whatever the numbers they have in terms of who would qualify as high contact, you are not needing as much vaccine for all of that because the demand is not quite there."
There will be no state mandate to get the vaccine. As far as the number of doses Florida receives, DeSantis said it is based entirely on the federal government, and he can't go directly to Pfizer and buy more.
"I would do that if we could, but realistically this is the feds working. If I went to Pfizer, Pfizer's dealing with the federal government, that's just the reality of the situation," DeSantis said.
The governor said he would have liked to see vaccines shipped out based not on population but demographics. Florida leads the country in retirees with more than 4,000 long-term care facilities. The focus is on making sure seniors who have been isolated for so long can get the shots first and get back to living out their golden years.
"No matter what you do, this thing finds a way to at some point in time and to be able to have vaccines available for the most vulnerable residents that is something that will really be a game-changer it will reduce mortality and allow long term care facilities to return to normal," DeSantis said.
There are several companies still working on getting emergency use authorization, including Moderna and Johnson and Johnson.
The governor said Johnson and Johnson's vaccine would be easier to distribute because it only requires a single dose.
After long term care facilities and healthcare workers, DeSantis said the broader senior citizen population is next in line along with first responders.