Despite Florida’s proven ability to vaccinate more than 400,000 people in one week, the state probably won’t achieve that weekly rate again in the coming weeks.
Last week, Florida administered more than 436,000 shots, but Gov. Ron DeSantis told reporters in Key Largo Friday that the state will likely come short of that. Despite first saying two weeks ago that had he asked the federal government to double Florida’s vaccine allotment, the state has consistently received about a quarter million doses weekly this month.
“We did believe that this week we’d see a plus up,” the Governor said. “We were led — we thought that that’s what was going to happen. We haven’t seen the plus-up yet, so we’re going to have to see what that looks like.”
However, he’s still holding out hope that the federal government could boost Florida’s weekly doses in the near future.
The federal government currently weights how many doses each state gets based on total population. Earlier this week former President Donald Trump‘s Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said states would begin receiving vaccines based on how efficiently they administer them.
Another possibility DeSantis has requested is that states get vaccines based on their elderly populations, which would benefit the Sunshine State.
The Governor has spent recent public appearances touting how quickly Florida has been vaccinating people 65 years old and order. On Fox News Friday morning, he claimed the state was vaccinating its 1 millionth senior live on air.
In Key Largo, he attacked an Associated Press article that he said suggested states were administering vaccines too quickly and draining supply.
“We want it to be in people’s arms. What do you want? You want a surplus with people not getting the vaccine in their arms?” DeSantis argued.
The article, he said, was spinning the vaccine scarcity as states’ faults.
The outgoing Trump administration and new Biden administration have said the federal government will push out all vaccines rather than withholding every other dose to distribute later for booster shots.
DeSantis was initially supportive of that plan, but this week he began emphasizing that the burden then falls on states to save enough doses for the second round. States also don’t know how many vaccines they’ll receive until days before they do, complicating plans that must be made three weeks in advance for the Pfizer formula and four weeks in advance for the Moderna formula.
Some have suggested that individuals could receive just the first shot of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, giving about half the immunity but vaccinating twice the population. DeSantis said that “Florida is committed to the two-dose regimen.”
“I think that that would be helpful, but I think the two-dose is better for seniors,” he added.
Beyond Florida’s allotment, the federal government will soon begin shipping vaccines to pharmacies, including Walmart, Winn-Dixie and Publix in Florida. That could means tens of thousands of additional vaccines each week, DeSantis said.
The state is already partnering with 242 Publix Pharmacy sites to make 100 to 125 vaccines available daily.
The Biden administration is exploring ways to increase vaccine production, including by using the Defense Production Act. DeSantis is encouraging the administration to focus its efforts on vaccine production rather than distribution but questioned whether the act, which asks manufacturers to produce supplies in times of crisis, would be effective when production is already at capacity.
“Whatever works, I’m in favor of,” DeSantis said.