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COVID-19 vaccinations start at long-term care facilities in Florida

Strike teams, along with CVS and Walgreens, will vaccinate residents and staff members
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Posted at 12:17 PM, Dec 16, 2020

POMPANO BEACH, Fla. — Some of the most vulnerable residents in Florida are now being vaccinated against the deadly coronavirus.

Speaking at John Knox Village in Pompano Beach on Wednesday, Gov. Ron DeSantis said "strike teams" of National Guard and medical personnel have started giving the highly anticipated COVID-19 vaccine to residents and staff members at long-term care facilities.

"This mission is gonna be a top priority," DeSantis said. "I think people should feel really optimistic about how this has gone."

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COVID-19 vaccinations start at long-term care facilities in Florida

The governor said Florida has received 21,400 doses of a COVID-19 from Pfizer, which will be split between 112 long-term care facilities in the areas of Miami-Dade, Broward, and Pinellas counties.

In addition, CVS and Walgreens have 60,000 doses of the vaccine which they will start administering to long-term care facilities on Monday.

However, DeSantis said he was "not happy" with having to wait until Monday to start vaccinations, and therefore created the "strike teams" to begin some vaccinations on Wednesday.

"We were not happy with allowing that wait. We believe time is of the essence," DeSantis said. "We believe the quicker you can get in to vaccinate, the easier it's gonna be over the next couple of months."

The governor said he expects Florida to receive 367,000 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine from Moderna just days from now.

Gov. Ron DeSantis on administering COVID-19 vaccinations at long-term care facilities, Dec. 16, 2020
"We believe time is of the essence," Gov. Ron DeSantis says as Florida begins distributing COVID-19 vaccines to long-term care facilities.

An advisory committee for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will meet on Thursday to decide whether to recommend the Moderna vaccine for an emergency use authoritization.

DeSantis said he expects full FDA approval by Friday night, with the first shipments to Florida starting this weekend.

"We only had five hospitals allowed to get the Pfizer. Now that's gonna be spread wide throughout the state with hospitals," DeSantis said, adding that 181 hospitals across Florida will receive the Moderna vaccine.

The first shipments of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine began arriving at hospital systems in Miami-Dade County, Broward County, Tampa, Orlando, and Jacksonville earlier this week.

DeSantis said his goal, after high-risk, high-contact health care workers and long-term care facilities receive the vaccine, is for Florida residents who are 65 and older and not living in long-term care facilities to have access to the vaccine.

That could happen as early as the last week of December, according to the governor.

"That's gonna be really, really good to focus on where the highest risks are," DeSantis said.