Governor Ron DeSantis announced on Tuesday that he is expanding the Publix supermarket chain’s “footprint” in COVID-19 vaccination efforts and is sending vaccine doses to 26 stores in five Northwest Florida counties. The doses will go to seven stores in Okaloosa County, six stores in Escambia County, five stores in Santa Rosa County, five stores in Bay County and three stores in Walton County.
Each store will be able to vaccinate upward of 125 people a day. They will begin accepting appointments on Wednesday and providing the vaccines on Thursday, DeSantis said.
“This is for people who are age 65 and above. This is also for Floridians,” DeSantis said at a news conference outside a Publix in Okaloosa County. “I know we have other states that are close by here. You guys, you follow with what your state’s doing. This is going to be for folks here in Florida.”
Tuesday’s announcement brought to 48 the number of Publix supermarkets getting Pfizer and Moderna vaccine doses from the DeSantis administration, which has made more than 4.4 million people who are 65 or older eligible for vaccinations. DeSantis announced last week he was sending 15,000 doses to 22 Publix supermarkets in Hernando, Citrus and Marion counties.
The governor said the state partnered with the chain because Publix was prepared to quickly get started. “I just want to say Publix has done a great job with this. We knew that they would because people love Publix in Florida,” DeSantis said. “But because they’ve done such a good job, we are now expanding the footprint.”