Governor Ron DeSantis gave an update on Florida’s plans to distribute COVID-19 vaccines.
The Governor said he expects FDA approval for the Pfizer vaccine next week and for the Moderna vaccine the following week.
With only enough vaccines available initially to vaccinate 20 million Americans by the end of December, DeSantis said Florida has prioritized who will get its limited share of the vaccines first.
DeSantis said Florida’s top priority will be residents of long-term care facilities. He said, “They are at the greatest risk and this vaccine could have a tremendously positive impact on them.”
Next will be health care workers who are in high risk and high contact environments followed by, pending availability, those 65 and over and those with significant co-morbidities.
DeSantis said, “Now, importantly, while we are encouraged and we want to make available the vaccine, no one will be mandated to take the vaccine. This will be available, but not mandated.”
He said Pfizer and Moderna are the only two companies that have formally applied for FDA approval to date, but he expects more to follow suit. He expects the Pfizer vaccine will be the first to arrive. The Pfizer vaccine is the one which must be stored at extremely cold temperatures and requires the recipient to get two doses separated by 21 days.
He said the Moderna vaccine doesn’t require the ultra-cold storage. It does require two doses, but has a slightly longer separation than the Pfizer vaccine. Instead of 21 days between vaccines with Pfizer, the recipient has 28 days with Moderna.
DeSantis said there are other vaccines on the horizon and he thinks one that’s very promising is being manufactured by Johnson & Johnson. It has already been produced at an industrial scale, only requires one dose, and it doesn’t require any type of special storage.
He said between the three vaccines, he hopes to get people with the highest risk vaccinated in December and January and to have widespread distribution by February.
“Distributing a vaccine across a large and diverse state is a big challenge,” said DeSantis, “but this is a major priority for the state of Florida. And as the process unfolds, we’re going to keep you up-to-date with the latest information. God bless you, and God bless the great state of Florida.”