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Florida’s emergency director says supply still No. 1 issue with vaccine rollout

FILE - A syringe is prepared with the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at the The Palace assisted living facility, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021, in Coral Gables, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
FILE - A syringe is prepared with the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at the The Palace assisted living facility, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021, in Coral Gables, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida Division of Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz doubled down on the need for more COVID-19 vaccine doses while speaking Thursday with state senators.

Moskowitz said that if Florida had the supply, it has the capacity to administer as many as 250,000 doses a day.

“We would be done with seniors in three weeks,” Moskowitz said.

Even with an extra 40,000 doses this week, the state is nowhere near the necessary allotment to achieve that goal.

“It’s definitely better, but it’s not enough,” Moskowitz said.

The director also took shots at comments made by the White House press secretary, who said Florida had only used half of its vaccine.

“In that 55% -- which is what we’re at, by the way -- I have almost a million second-doses that I can’t touch until you hit that schedule,” Moskowitz said.

Supply continues to be the number one issue facing vaccine rollout.

“They know it’s a supply issue. Every state knows it’s a supply issue. You know it’s a supply issue,” Moskowitz said.

The director acknowledged issues like long lines and canceled appointments in Florida, but a new statewide preregistration system launching in the coming days seeks to create a smoother process.

That’s welcome news to state Sen. Danny Burgess, chair of the Senate pandemic committee.

“That system is going to be immensely helpful, but I think he made it very clear that the real issue is supply. That you plan for a certain promise, and then if that’s not delivered, you have to adjust that plan and you have to be willing to be flexible,” Burgess said.

Currently, the state is only getting a six-day heads-up on weekly vaccine allotment, although Moskowitz said the federal government is hoping to increase that to three weeks.

The director did highlight that the state achieved its goal of offering vaccinations to all nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

He also noted an issue that has been creeping up, saying high rates of health care workers and long-term care facility workers have declined to take the vaccine.