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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during a news conference at a drive-through coronavirus testing site in front of Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File)

Coronavirus in Florida

Gov. DeSantis defends snowbirds who receive COVID-19 vaccine in Florida

Some sun-seekers, though not all, are welcomed.

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday offered what may be his staunchest defense yet of Northerners who travel to Florida and receive a coveted COVID-19 vaccine.

Speaking to reporters at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, DeSantis contended that many snowbirds — Northerners who relocate to Florida during the warmer winter — are unlike tourists. He asserted that many sun-seekers own property in Florida, have relationships with local doctors and spend considerable time in the Sunshine State.

“We’re a transient state,” DeSantis said. “You’ll have people that will be here and it’s not like they’re just on vacation for two weeks.”

The issue of who should get access to the limited vaccine supply first is a global debate not unique to Florida.

Notably, DeSantis in December signed an executive order allowing those 65 and older to get a vaccine, making Florida the first state in the nation to do so.

The order broke ranks with U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance, which recommended that essential workers and those 75 and older should be first to receive vaccines.

Some contend that Florida’s broader access may lure Americans into the state’s already long COVID-19 vaccine line.

DeSantis acknowledged the possibility. He drew the line, however, on Florida’s short-term travelers.

“We’re discouraging people who come to Florida just to get a vaccine,” DeSantis said, adding that hospitals should turn away those “flying by night” from elsewhere.

As of Monday, 260,655 people in Florida have received the first dose of either Pfizer or Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine. According to the Florida Department of Health, 42,475 of those doses were administered to people 65 and older.

DeSantis on Monday also unveiled a series of new steps to help jumpstart Florida’s sluggish vaccine distribution.

Among those steps, DeSantis plans to prioritize vaccine shipments to higher-performing hospitals.

The Department of Emergency Management will also activate contracts for 1,000 nurses to help at sites and shorthanded hospitals.

The new initiatives do not broaden or narrow DeSantis’ vaccine priority list.

“If they get sick over the winter, guess what?” the Governor quipped. “They’re going to come to a hospital in Florida.”

Written By

Jason Delgado covers news out of the state capital for Florida Politics. After a stint with the U.S. Army, Jason attended the University of Central Florida where he studied American Policy and National Security. His past bylines include WMFE-NPR and POLITICO Florida. Throw him a line at or on Twitter at @JasonDelgadoFL.



  1. Sonja Fitch

    January 6, 2021 at 5:57 am

    Duffus Desantis FAILS again! Wimpy federal bs! The CDC ,federal, has issued who! You Duffus Desantis are willingly slaughtering Floridians! Lock of Desantis as being criminally negligent in representing Floridians!

  2. Marcel

    January 6, 2021 at 11:01 am

    The rumor on several media is that Canadian “snowbirds” 65+ living part time in Florida, not under Medicaid, Medicare or private US Health Insurance and who are not American Citizens will receive the covid 19 vaccine for free in Florida. Can you confirm since the number of vaccines is already limited for US Citizens in Florida?

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