DeSantis: Elderly will receive COVID-19 vaccine before essential workers

Published: Dec. 22, 2020 at 3:52 PM CST
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THE VILLAGES, Fla. (WCJB) - Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis outlined the next phase of the state’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan.

According to the governor, the state’s elderly residents are next in line - putting them before essential workers and younger people with underlying health conditions, which bucks CDC recommendations.

DeSantis did not specify the age range of those that will be eligible for the vaccine at the next phase, saying those details will be released soon.

During his Tuesday afternoon news conference at UF Health in the Villages, the first senior citizens, who are not in a long-term care facility, received the first dose of the vaccine.

“The vaccines are going to be targeted where the risk is going to be greatest, and that’s in our elderly population,” DeSantis said. “We are not going to put young, healthy workers ahead of our elderly, vulnerable population.

The governor argued that the elderly are more at risk compared to younger essential workers or health care workers. The CDC said Sunday to not only recommend those older than 75 to receive the vaccine next, but also “frontline essential workers,” - which includes: emergency responders, teachers and grocery store employees.

“In Florida we’ve got to put our parents and grandparents first, that’s what we’re doing and we’re going to work like hell to be able to get all the vaccine out to elderly who want it,” he said.

DeSantis is hopeful to have a few million elderly residents vaccinated by the end of January.

“If you’re in the elderly population, this is coming soon, and just stay tuned,” DeSantis said. “We’re a lot further along than we thought we’d be four months ago.”

According to DeSantis, more than half a million doses of Moderna and Pfizer vaccines should be available by the end of Tuesday. He also hopes to have the Johnson & Johnson vaccine available to the state, which is only one dose, soon - this vaccine could be approved in the new year.

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