‘Let’s let her rip’: Florida becomes first state to vaccinate long-term care facility residents
Gov. Ron DeSantis pushes a longterm care facility resident after she receives a COVID-19 shot. Image via Facebook Live/Governor Ron DeSantis.

DeSantis wheelchair
Strike teams are administering 21,450 doses split between Broward and Pinellas counties.

Florida didn’t want to wait until Monday to start vaccinating nursing home residents against COVID-19, so state health officials began administering the vaccine Wednesday.

Walgreens and CVS have contracted with the federal government and will handle 60,000 doses in Florida, which could last the state a week to 10 days. But Gov. Ron DeSantis told reporters outside John Knox Village in Pompano Beach that time is of the essence.

“We’re not waiting. We cannot just wait ’till Monday,” the Governor said. “We’ve got to use what we have, and we’re going to continue in that mission until the job is done.”

Instead, he asked the Department of Health and the Division of Emergency Management to assemble strike teams, which have started vaccinating long-term care facility staff and residents with 21,450 Pfizer vaccine doses split between Broward and Pinellas counties. In those counties with a high concentration of nursing homes, strike teams are entering 112 facilities, and six nursing homes in Miami-Dade County will begin providing vaccines themselves.

“We wanted to cut through bureaucracy, we didn’t want to see delays, we didn’t want the entire fortunes to be in the hands of what those companies did,” DeSantis said.

That makes Florida the first state to administer vaccines in long-term care facilities, the Governor relayed from Army Gen. Gustave Perna, chief operating officer for the federal government’s Operation Warp Speed.

Hospitals began vaccinating health care workers with the Pfizer vaccine Monday in the first phase of the nationwide distribution. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to approve the Moderna vaccine this week, and 367,000 of those vaccines could be in 181 of the state’s hospitals by next week.

Vaccinating frontline health care workers is an attempt to keep hospitals operating at full capacity as the nation faces a surge in cases expected to worsen over the holidays. But hospital staff typically aren’t in high-risk demographics for severe outcomes, including the elderly and people with heart conditions.

Giving the vaccine instead to people who are susceptible to negative outcomes would allow them to return to a sense of normalcy and improve their quality of life, DeSantis said.

Division of Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz added that the coronavirus wasn’t the only pandemic to strike long-term care facilities.

“It was isolation, it was being disconnected from their family members, it was not being able to have visitors,” Moskowitz said. “This is the beginning of the end to all of that for all of these people who’ve had to suffer with being alone and the mental health impacts of that in their elder years.”

Strike team members gave Vera Leip, a former school teacher from Ferguson, Missouri, a shot at the end of the press conference. With DeSantis looking on and offering an encouraging “let’s let her rip,” she became one of several nursing home residents to receive the vaccine Wednesday.

With the shot administered, DeSantis stepped in to push Leip and her wheelchair back inside without fielding questions from reporters.

“I’ll do it. I’ll do the honors.”

Renzo Downey

Renzo Downey covers state government for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering state government for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at renzo@floridapolitics.com and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.


4 comments

  • Sonja Fitch

    December 18, 2020 at 8:06 am

    I owe Desantis an apology! When Desantis said some of the vaccines were being held up, I immediately thought what is the goptrump death cult scam?! What is in it for Desantis?! Come to find out the goptrump death cult leader Trump was pitching a tantrum and holding up the Vaccine deliveries! Wonder when the loyalist goptrump death cult sociopaths are going to realize , that everything has to do with Trump!!! It doesn’t matter Desantis your loyalty UNLESS Trump can use it for Trump!

  • DisplacedCTYankee

    December 18, 2020 at 12:01 pm

    I do not see ‘let’s let her rip’ anywhere in this story. So it’s not appropriate in the headline. More “journalism” from Florida State Remedial College.

  • Sonja Fitch

    December 18, 2020 at 11:54 pm

    Fing A Desantis! You are the slime ball human that suggested the White House hold up vaccine to force your Fing idea that folks only needed ONESHOT! You lousy scum bag! You are a depraved piece of shit! May God have mercy on your rotten soul!!!!!!!!! You Duffus Desantis are willingly slaughtering Floridians!

  • Sonja Fitch

    December 20, 2020 at 6:07 am

    Damn I owe Desantis another apology! Least I can do when someone in the goptrump death cult says “I made the Mistake.”

Comments are closed.


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