Vaccine distribution to ramp up after the holidays

As of Monday, a state vaccine report showed more than 122,000 Floridians have received their first shot of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Jared Moskowitz, the state’s director of emergency management, said the actual number is likely around 150,000.

“It’s taking providers up to 72 hours to enter the information,” said Moskowitz.

Moskowitz said vaccinations have slowed down in recent days due to the holiday season, but he anticipates distribution of the 900,000 doses the state has received to ramp up in the coming days.

“We’re impressed upon the hospitals and our county health departments and all of our partners out there that we need to pick up the pace, but that’s why I said I think when we get on the other side of this holiday season -- you’re going to see that happen,” said Moskowitz.

How quickly the state gets to Phase II of its vaccine distribution plan depends on two factors: How many vaccines the state gets, and how many people over the age of 65 opt to get vaccinated.

“If 60 or 70 percent of 65 and older people want the vaccine, then it will take a little longer to get to the next group,” said Moskowitz.

So far, one out of five Floridians who have received the vaccine are 65 or older, but Moskowitz expects that share will grow as Phase I ramps up after the new year.

And while the state decided to prioritize vaccinating the elderly over essential workers, Moskowitz said there will be concentrated efforts to ensure access to the vaccine among rural and minority communities.

“That’s why we’re trying houses of worship this weekend. If that turns out to be a good mode of getting the vaccine out in the African American community, we’ll expand that,” said Moskowitz.

The director said negative reactions to the vaccine have been rare.

As a precaution, kits to treat anaphylactic shock are on hand where the vaccine is being given.