Gov DeSantis draws impromptu applause, says he’ll decline COVID vaccine until Florida seniors are covered

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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis drew plaudits Wednesday after refusing to be one of the first to take one of the new COVID-19 vaccines, saying that the state’s senior population should be first in line.

“I’m willing to take it, but I am not the priority, they’re the priority. I’m under 45,” DeSantis — governor of the state with the country’s largest number of seniors — told reporters.

“People under 45 are not going to be the first in line for this, so when it’s my turn I will take it,” he continued.

“I want my parents, our grandparents to be able to get it,” DeSantis added. “I’m an elected official but whoop-tee—doo, at the end of the day let’s focus where the risk is.”

The governor made his remarks as the Trump administration, as well as vaccine makers Pfizer and Moderna, have begun to distribute millions of doses around the country.

In most cases, first responders such as frontline medical personnel are being prioritized along with senior populations and other Americans who are most at-risk. But in other cases, members of Congress and others in leadership positions are being vaccinated as well.

During his press conference, DeSantis said that seniors in the Sunshine State will begin to see a boost in the number of vaccines becoming available after New Year’s Day across all 67 counties. And while seniors are among those who will be prioritized, due to a limited number of vaccines early on distribution will be on a first-come, first-served basis, Fox News reported.

Under provisions of an executive order DeSantis signed last week, frontline health workers and residents of eldercare and long-term facilities, as well as residents 65 and older, will be prioritized for the first vaccines.

Even so, due to short supply, many senior citizens have had to wait in long lines, only to be turned away as doses ran out.

“That’s the population that’s been most at risk for COVID, it’s impacted their lives greater and we have a responsibility to stand by those folks who have done so much to make our state and country what it is today,” DeSantis said.

“You talk about a place like Kings Point, you have people from the Greatest Generation, people who fought in World War II, survived the Holocaust – these are people that we’ve got to stand with and prioritize,” he said.

Fox News said that Florida is set to receive 127,100 doses of Moderna’s vaccine, of which 93,900 are set to be distributed to county health agencies that so far have not gotten any at all.

Throughout the state, counties have been inundated with seniors who have lined up to get the new vaccine. Health officials in Lee County, where Cape Coral — one of the country’s top retirement destinations — said they reached capacity at their three vaccine distribution centers by 6:30 a.m. Wednesday.

That drew criticism from some, who said that vaccines ought to be distributed via an appointment system and reservations, and for full-time residents first — not so-called “snowbirds,” seniors who only reside in Florida during the winter months.

State officials said that the second round of Pfizer’s vaccine will be distributed next week to those who received the first round earlier this month.

Fox News said that as of Wednesday, 175,000 residents had been given the first round of vaccines. The state’s senior population, however, numbers around 4 million.

Jon Dougherty

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