Joe Henderson: Thank you, Governor, for the early Christmas present

For those 65 and over, time to roll up your sleeve for the COVID-19 vaccine.

Don’t faint. This is a thank-you note to Gov. Ron DeSantis for the early Christmas present he gave me.

Well, me and the 4.4 million or so other Floridians age 65 and over.

The Governor signed an executive order signaling we’re the next group to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Long-term care facility residents and staff and health care workers with direct patient contact are priorities as well.

Just tell me where to go and when to be there, and I’ll show up with my sleeve already rolled.

My wife and I have been diligent mask-wearers throughout the pandemic. We followed medical recommendations about the best ways to protect ourselves and others. Receiving the vaccination is the next logical step.

The Governor’s move bucks the CDC recommendation that for now only those age 75 and older get the vaccination, along with essential frontline workers. The latter group includes emergency responders, teachers, and grocery store employees.

DeSantis, who is 42, said nope to that.

“It makes no sense for someone that’s 42 to jump ahead of someone that is 70 years old,” he told reporters. “You can look at the data on this, it’s very clear. I want to make sure that if there’s one dose here in Pensacola left for this week, I want it to go to an elderly. I don’t want it to go to me.”

Many criticized DeSantis for his approach to containing the virus, but he’s right this time. And no, it’s not just because he green-lighted vaccinations for folks like me. I figured it might be early spring before my turn came, and I was OK with that.

We all know by now, though, this virus is like nothing we’ve seen. Florida’s daily update Wednesday included 11,384 new COVID-19 cases and 120 more deaths linked to the virus.

Florida has more than 1.2 million reported cases since this nightmare began, which should be enough ammunition to shut the anti-vax crowd up for good. Get the damn shot, ok?

The idea that Washington politicians received vaccinations this week upset some people, but I didn’t have a problem with that. The actions of high-profile leaders can reinforce the safety of these vaccines.

That point needed reinforcement, just as the rash of infections among leaders who mocked the mask mandates showed what happens when people behave stupidly.

We are about to celebrate – if that’s the word – the strangest Christmas any of us has experienced. Officials pleaded with people to stay home. Put off that trip to grandma’s house. Churches have had to limit traditional Christmas Eve services.

I mean, can you really lift a lighted candle in your living room to a Zoom version of Silent Night?

Yes, you can.

This time next year, things should be different.

In the meantime, though, be smart and thankful for the blessings you do have.

Hopefully, it won’t be much longer until everyone can get the shots.

Until then, wear a mask. You know the drill.

Oh, and Merry Christmas to one and all.

Joe Henderson

I have a 45-year career in newspapers, including nearly 42 years at The Tampa Tribune. Florida is wacky, wonderful, unpredictable and a national force. It's a treat to have a front-row seat for it all.


  • Rosser Pace

    December 24, 2020 at 5:43 am

    Sorry, but will have to disagree with you this issue. You have the choice not to engage with others. Frontline workers do not have that choice. I believe teachers, store clerks, and others that serve the public should have been provided the vaccine first.

  • Joe

    December 25, 2020 at 9:36 am

    I agree with Rosser Pace

  • Joe

    December 25, 2020 at 9:40 am

    (continuation of previous message) Even though I am 70 years old I will wait my turn to allow essential workers to get their vaccines. Nursing home are fine to get them first, but many of us between 65 sand 75 have the option of keeping ourselves safe in other ways.

Comments are closed.


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