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'Supply is limited': Gov. DeSantis explains coronavirus vaccine launch for elderly

Posted at 7:29 AM, Dec 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-30 17:20:52-05

DELRAY BEACH, Fla. — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis discussed the coronavirus vaccine rollout plan during a Wednesday morning visit to Palm Beach County.

DeSantis was at Kings Point in Delray Beach while three seniors received their Moderna vaccine.

The governor told those 65 or older can find a vaccine to start their search for a vaccine with their county. Palm Beach County and Martin County launched hotlines on Tuesday, but they had already filled their appointments for next week.

DeSantis said that if seniors can't find the vaccine through their county, to check local hospitals' websites.

"Supply is limited," DeSantis said. "We don't have enough vaccines for all four million plus senior citizens in Florida."

DeSantis reiterated several times that those 65 and older are the priority for the vaccine. He also highlighted that Florida is one of the first states to vaccinate EMTs and paramedics in addition to hospital staff.

"There was a recommendation from the CDC that you [vaccinate] so-called essential workers. What's essential?" DeSantis said. "There's a lot of people who work really hard that the CDC doesn't consider essential, but their family considers them essential. I consider them essential."

DeSantis said the CDC recommendation would put young people ahead of the elderly in line.

"We're not going to be putting young people ahead of our elderly population," said DeSantis. "If you have somebody that works for a grocery store or food services that may be 22, they would have priority over someone who is 73."

The governor said Florida has 175,000 doses are currently available, but expects that number to rise.

DeSantis mentioned that a third vaccine has been approved in the UK, but not in the U.S.

The United Kingdom government says the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency has made an emergency authorization for the vaccine developed by Oxford University and UK-based drugmaker AstraZeneca.

Palm Beach County Mayor David Kerner joined Gov. DeSantis at the podium.

He asked for people to continue to wear masks and social distance.

"The battle is not over," Kerner said. "Nationwide we're seeing some very tragic things going on. We have the willpower and the compassion in this county to remain focused on keeping our most vulnerable safe and do what we need to do."

Florida's daily first-time positivty rate reached 11.08 percent, which is the highest in five months, as Palm Beach County's percentage was 10.38, the highest in one month.

77-year0old Judy Herman of Kings Point was among the first to get the shot with her husband, Dick.

“I’m thrilled to be among the first and we couldn’t wait to get the vaccine and as soon as one was available we were ready,” Judy Herman said.

Outside the community center a long line of seniors were also hoping to get vaccinated. Many filled out paperwork and were given instructions on making appointments for Thursday, when another 500 doses are expected.

Palm Beach County Health Director Dr. Alina Alonso said the county is now working on ways to make the vaccine widely available to seniors.

A hotline for making appointments crashed on Tuesday after it was overwhelmed with calls. Dr. Alonso says work is being done to fix the phone issue and set up an email system for registering for shots.

The governor said vaccines should be reaching all Florida counties by next week, and counties will be deciding how to get the vaccine to seniors.

DeSantis also said he is not rushing in line to get the vaccine just yet.

“When it’s my turn I’ll take it, but this is who I want to be vaccinated, I want my parents, our grandparents to be able to get it,” DeSantis said.