VERO BEACH, Fla. — Gov. Ron DeSantis is firing back at the White House for claiming that Florida has only used about 50% of the COVID-19 vaccine supply it's received from the federal government.
That controversial statement was made on Monday by White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki during a news briefing in Washington.
"I will note, because we're data first here, facts first here, they've only distributed about 50% of the vaccines that they have been given in Florida," Psaki said. "So clearly, they have a good deal of the vaccine."
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Speaking in Vero Beach on Tuesday, DeSantis criticized Psaki's comments, calling them "disingenuous."
"We are No. 1 in the country for doses per capita for the top 10 states -- the top 10 most populous states," DeSantis said.
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The governor said that, as of Monday, the state has received around 1.7 million first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine from the federal government, and has distributed those first doses to 1,249,439 people.
DeSantis said Florida is withholding additional doses of the vaccine, but those serve as booster shots/second doses for residents.
"We're not going to divert second doses away from seniors. Seniors want it. We're going to do it," DeSantis said. "So if the implication is you should be giving those doses away to other people, that's not the way the FDA has prescribed it, and so we are absolutely committed to that."
Palm Beach County leaders on Tuesday also questioned Psaki's claim that Florida is sitting on half of its vaccine supply.
"The federal government the other night reported that Florida has 50% of its vaccines it's still sitting on. Do we have any clarity on that?" Commissioner Gregg Weiss asked Bill Johnson, Palm Beach County's director of emergency management, at a county commission meeting.
"I can assure you that's not the case in Palm Beach County," Johnson said. "Palm Beach County will run out of vaccine by the end of this week."
"But they are saying the state," Weiss said.
"I don't believe that's the situation in the state," Johnson replied.
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DeSantis on Tuesday once again urged President Joe Biden's administration to send more doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to the Sunshine State.
"If we can get more first doses given to Florida, we would be able to do that much more, that much quickly," DeSantis said. "We're at the mercy of whatever is sent. So if they send 500,000 first doses instead of 266,000, I can double the drive-thru sites. I can give more to hospitals. I can expand Publix."
According to the latest numbers from the Florida Department of Health, a total of 1,407,411 people have received the COVID-19 vaccine in the state.
Last week, Biden ordered the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to develop a program to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine through local pharmacies.
In addition, Biden said his administration is planning to open 100 vaccination sites across the country through the Federal Emergency Management Agency in order to help administer 100 million doses in his first 100 days in office.