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Gov. DeSantis unveils updated vaccine distribution plan, puts elderly first

'In Florida, we’ve got to put our parents and grandparents first,' the governor said.

On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control revised its recommendations to say this newest round of COVID-19 vaccines should be reserved for essential workers and people 75 and older.

But Governor Ron DeSantis said those are only recommendations and announced his own plan to prioritize Florida’s allocation differently.

That means some of our state’s most vulnerable people could have to wait longer for the vaccine.

“If you’re in the elderly population, this is coming soon,” said DeSantis.

DeSantis made it clear, the CDC guideline is only a recommendation, and he doesn’t plan to follow it.  

“We are not going to put young, healthy workers ahead of our elderly vulnerable population,” he said at The Villages, announcing the state’s policy.

The governor says in Florida, younger essential workers, like those in food services, and even those with underlying health conditions, will have to wait longer. The distribution priority system, he said, would be based almost entirely on age.

“It is absolutely true that if you’re 40, you could have some comorbidities,” said DeSantis. “The problem is, how do you administer that? And do you want to have the hospitals having to slice and dice everyone’s comorbidity? We will focus on it based on elderly and age, not necessarily health status. And the reason for that is just efficiency, it’s clear.”

In The Villages, the average age is 71. Some people attending the announcement rolled up their sleeves to receive the vaccine.

“These are probably the first members of the community who are senior citizens who are going to be vaccinated,” said DeSantis. “Maybe anywhere in the country, but certainly in Florida.”

DeSantis said it could take at least six weeks to get enough doses to vaccinate all 3.12 million Floridians 70 and older.

He also did not have a clear answer about whether snowbirds or those visiting would be excluded.

“You know, we have not necessarily done that. I mean, we’ll see,” he said.

For now, hospitals and healthcare systems continue to distribute the vaccine.

The state will also set up so-called community pods as drug store chains like Walgreens and CVS are also coming online.

It’s a distribution network for some but not all. Not yet.

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

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