TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida’s governor said boosters will likely be widely available across the state if they get final approval.
Governor Ron DeSantis told reporters near West Palm Beach on Wednesday that he expected those that want one would be able to get them at sites already offering the shots.
"We have a massive surplus of vaccine across the country," DeSantis said. "I don't know how many are going to want booster shots, but even if a lot want them, I do think you're going to be able to do them no problem."
His comments follow the federal government's recommendation that Pfizer and Moderna recipients get boosters eight months after their second dose.
Health and Human Services officials released new data that showed the shots lose effectiveness over time.
"This announcement today was really signaling, this is the plan," said Dr. Cameron Webb, who focuses on vaccine equity for the White House COVID Task Force. "So that we can start those conversations with states and make sure we have all the pieces in place."
DeSantis said he had yet to see the federal government's research justifying the next round of shots, but encouraged Floridians to make their own choice on boosters.
"The CDC warned a month ago that there could be effects," DeSantis said. "So, I think people are going to have to look at all that if it is approved, EUA (emergency use authorization). Talk to your physician, see what's right for you."
Florida's @GovRonDeSantis on boosters. Says he anticipates they'll be widely available in the state at locations already providing them-- but encouraged Floridians to do their own research before getting one: "Talk to your physician," he said. "See what's right for you." pic.twitter.com/cO8jWzBrdV— Forrest Saunders (@FBSaunders) August 18, 2021
The new vaccination effort comes on top of the previous.
CDC data shows more than 40 percent of Florida's eligible residents, those 12 and older, lack first or second doses. The state remains in the middle of the pack for fully-vaccinated, nationally.
A group of Congressional Democrats met Wednesday to urge more action from DeSantis, blaming him for the middling results. They continued to call for more virus mitigation measures and vaccine advocacy to fight the still growing surge in cases from the delta variant.
"I feel like we're beating our heads against the wall here trying to get the governor to do the right thing," said Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach. "That's why I think we really have to call on everybody to -- come on, folks, save yourself."
DeSantis has defended his vaccine record, touting more than 50 public events and spearheading his "Seniors First" initiative, which has fully vaccinated more than 80 percent of the state's population of those 65 and older.
Federal officials said nursing homes and seniors would again be the first to receive boosters. The targeted start date would be Sept. 20.
The early priority for seniors during the initial rollout of vaccines puts them at the front of the line during the next wave.
Wednesday's booster recommendation still needs the FDA and a CDC panel to sign off.
Federal officials said a booster shot for Johnson & Johnson recipients is also likely.
Researchers, however, are still collecting data before making an official recommendation.