As COVID-19 vaccines inch closer to FDA approval, Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday shared his vision for who will first receive the vaccinations in Florida.
In a three-minute video, the Governor said the Sunshine State will prioritize its most vulnerable residents. He cautioned that no state will have vaccines available for everyone “off the bat.”
“The top priority will be our residents of our long-term care facilities,” DeSantis said. “They are at the greatest risk and this vaccine could have a tremendously positive impact on them.”
Health care workers and those in high risk and “high contact environments” will be next in line, he said. After that, those 65 and older will be eligible.
DeSantis emphasized that Floridians will not be required to receive the vaccine.
“While we are encouraged and we want to make available the vaccine, no one will be mandated to take the vaccine,” he said. “This will be available, but not mandated.”
Notably, there are various vaccines at different levels of development.
Thus far, two companies, Pfizer and Moderna, are the only two to apply for Food and Drug Administration approval.
The Governor noted that the Pfizer vaccine requires “extraordinary storage requirements” including “ultra-cold refrigeration.” He also highlighted that both vaccines require two doses separated by a period of 21 or 28 days.
“There are other vaccines on the horizon,” DeSantis said.
He described a vaccine being manufactured by Johnson & Johnson as “very promising.”
“They have already produced this at an industrial scale,” DeSantis noted. “Importantly, it only requires one dose, and it doesn’t require any type of special storage.”
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is expected to receive FDA approval in January and may begin distribution as early as February.
Meanwhile, the Governor said Florida health officials will work to vaccinate the most high-risk Floridians throughout December and into January.
“Distributing a vaccine across a large and diverse state is a big challenge, but this is a major priority for the state of Florida,” DeSantis said.