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DeSantis: Florida still waiting on Moderna vaccine due to weather delays

State expecting vaccine shipment to increase by 41,000 next week

Moderna vaccine held up by winter storm nationwide
Moderna vaccine held up by winter storm nationwide

LAKEWOOD RANCH, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis said Wednesday the state is still waiting on thousands of vaccines that have been delayed due to a massive winter storm front is blowing through the nation’s midsection.

The devastating storm has knocked out power to millions, mostly in Texas, but the weather has also threatened the nation’s COVID-19 vaccination effort. President Joe Biden’s administration said delays in vaccine shipments and deliveries were likely, and that’s the case in Florida.

DeSantis said the state did get the vast majority of its Pfizer vaccine shipment this week, about 136,000 doses, but it is still waiting on about 9,000 doses. When it comes to the Moderna vaccine shipment, DeSantis said the entire 200,000-dose shipment has yet to arrive.

“I think it’s gonna come, hopefully by Thursday or Friday. Normally we would have all the Moderna by Tuesday or Wednesday of each week. What’s happened is you see all the storms you see a lot of the ice -- I think some of this stuff is just in Memphis or the places where they ship from,” DeSantis said during a news conference in Lakewood Ranch.

DeSantis said the delay could result in appointment delays for those who are scheduled to get their vaccine at Publix. For now, everyone who already has an appointment scheduled has been told to keep their appointment.

State officials say the state-run vaccination site in Jacksonville at the Regency Square Mall uses the Pfizer vaccine and “is not being impacted by shipping delays.”

In recent weeks the site has managed to double the number of vaccine doses it administers on a daily basis vaccinating close to 2,000 people a day.

Next week, the state is expecting another 41,000 increase in doses, weather permitting.

The Biden administration said Tuesday it was boosting the amount of vaccine sent to states to 13.5 million doses per week, a 57% increase from when Biden took office nearly a month ago, as well as doubling to 2 million the weekly doses being sent to pharmacies.

“So that allows us to increase doses in counties that need it -- (so) that they try to catch up. So, we haven’t made the decisions about where those are going to go,” DeSantis said.

At the direction of DeSantis, the Florida Division of Emergency Management is also working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to possibly set up large vaccination sites in the state that would add up to 70,000 doses per week.

“We say, ‘Look, we want more doses however you’re going to do it.’ I’ve been very clear the easiest thing is just to send us more because we have the infrastructure. If they want to come in and set up, and they’re going to do doses, over and above our current allotment, we obviously want to participate in that because we want as many doses as possible. So hopefully they’ll be able to do something here in Florida as well,” he said.

FEMA opened its first COVID-19 inoculation sites in Los Angeles and Oakland this week, part of a broader effort by the Biden administration to get shots into arms more quickly and reach minority communities hit hard by the outbreak.

About the Authors:

Digital reporter who has lived in Jacksonville for more than 25 years and focuses on important local issues like education and the environment.