Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and the new administration in Washington D.C. are trading jabs over the rollout of vaccines in the state.
While President Joe Biden’s administration says half the vaccines distributed to Florida are being held back, DeSantis is defending the state’s plan while touting 1 million shots in the arms of the elderly.
It all stemmed from a press conference on Jan. 24, when Biden’s Press Sec. Jen Psaki cited Centers for Disease Control data that showed vaccinators in Florida only gave out 50% of the state’s allotted shots.
“So, clearly, they have a good deal of the vaccine. That supply will need to continue to increase as they are able to effectively reach people across the state,” Psaki said.
She went on to say that supply will need to increase, but part of the challenge is having vaccinators and vaccine distribution sites that are reaching people in communities.
“And the president is going to be focused on that in a bipartisan manner, regardless of what any elected official may have to say,” she said.
DeSantis fired back the next day.
“The insinuation that Florida is underutilizing vaccines is totally disingenuous. Florida is number one in the country among the top 10 most populous states for vaccine doses per capita,” he said. “Florida is averaging more than 300,000 first doses per week but we are not going to divert second doses away to other people.”
DeSantis added that the state is ready to double output if they’re given additional first doses.
Later in the day on Jan. 25, DeSantis learned that the federal government would be doling out 307,000 first dose vaccines to Florida next week — up from approximately 260,000 the state usually gets.
Jabs between the Biden administration and DeSantis go back a week ago when the president said he had plans to tap FEMA and the National Guard to assist in the vaccine rollout. Expressing disagreement with such a move, DeSantis said that unnecessary layers of government would be added.
“I can tell you, that’s not necessary in Florida. All we need is more vaccine,” he said.
During a visit to Key Largo on Jan. 22, DeSantis reassured those who received their first dose would receive the second shot. He told reporters the state Department of Emergency Management keeps a small cache of doses for situations when someone needs additional shots to administer second doses.
“We have a small amount to troubleshoot,” he said. “There are not massive amounts.”
More than 1.6 million vaccines have been administered in the state, with 1 million administered to those over 65 years of age.