DeSantis: Florida getting ‘modest increase’ in next week’s vaccine allotment

Baptist Health executive VP says demand has far outstripped supply so far

Gov. Ron DeSantis during a press conference in Vero Beach. (Copyright 2020 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.)

TALLAHASEE, Fla. – Posting a statement Tuesday night on Twitter, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said the state will be receiving a “modest increase” in first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

DeSantis said the state has received approximately 260,000 first doses per week for the past several weeks. He said next week, Florida plans to receive 307,000 first doses from the federal government.

Dr. Elizabeth Ransom, executive vice president and chief physician executive of Baptist Health, said it remains to be seen how the state will spread those out.

“We don’t have more first doses to administer. We just have to see where the state will allocate those. They may go to Publix and Walgreens at this point. We’ll just wait and see,” Ransom said in an interview Wednesday on The Morning Show.

She said the hospital has been able to administer 20,000 doses of the vaccine so far, including a limited amount to some patients, along with the system’s health care workers.

“It has been frustrating, though. At first, of course, we were making sure that our frontline health care workers were vaccinated. Clearly, with the executive order from the governor, we also need to focus on individuals who are over age 65, and also those who have chronic disease. That’s a huge population, and, as I said, definitely far outstrips the number of vaccines that we’ve had,” Ransom said. “We’re really trying to very equitably and ethically determine how we distribute those, and we just hope that we continue to get more vaccine. With the changes coming forward, we’re not exactly sure how that will play out, but we have contingency plans for any eventuality.”

Ransom said it’s also important to note that Baptist Health cannot give you a second vaccine dose if you received your first dose somewhere else.

“Because of the way the doses are allocated, you have to get the second dose at the same location where you got the first dose, at least so far,” Ransom said.

DeSantis’ announcement comes after Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said his state will receive an increased weekly allocation, totaling 145,900 doses.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which tracks federally distributed vaccine data, Florida has received over 3.1 million doses and administered more than 1.6 million doses, as of Tuesday. Just over 159,000 Florida residents have received two or more doses, according to the CDC.

With COVID-19 surging and vaccinations off to a slow start, President Biden said earlier this month that he planned to rapidly release most available vaccine doses to protect more people, a reversal of Trump administration policies. The new administration has said it plans to rely on manufacturers to deliver enough for second doses.

The vaccine is still in high demand, and DeSantis has maintained that the state will be able to vaccinate more seniors 65 years old and older, as well as other groups like teachers and law enforcement, if there was more supply.