SEBRING, Fla. — Gov. Ron DeSantis held his second news conference of the day Wednesday afternoon in Sebring, Florida, to announce a new program to vaccinate more seniors in rural areas of Florida.
The governor spoke earlier in the day in Crystal River where he announced that all school employees and child care workers in Florida, regardless of age, can receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
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DeSantis spoke in Sebring at a former JCPenney store at the Lakeshore Mall where COVID-19 vaccines are being distributed.
He said Highlands County received 3,600 more doses of the vaccine Thursday.
About 37 percent of seniors in Highlands County have already received at least one shot, and the state hopes the additional doses will boost those numbers to 50 to 60 percent.
"Statewide, we're well over 50 percent of all of our seniors have received at least one dose," DeSantis said. "Even big counties like Palm Beach is 65 percent."
He said the state will continue to make a push to vaccinate seniors first, but he has no problem with the federal government vaccinating all school employees.
DeSantis said the state is working to boost the number of seniors getting shots in rural areas of Florida.
The surge to vaccinate more seniors in rural areas will include Glades, Highlands, Levy, Putnam, Dixie and Gilchrist counties.
The governor said those counties were among the lowest to vaccinate their seniors, including Glades only vaccinating 29 percent of their seniors, the lowest of any county in Florida.
"The good thing about the rural, if you get the doses in, and you get the seniors signed up, you can double those numbers very quickly," DeSantis said.
He said the state is partnering with Health Hero to increase resources to any existing vaccinating pods in those rural counties in addition to surging vaccine supplies.
There are now 12 Walgreens, 81 CVS locations, 730 Publix pharmacies, 119 Walmart and Sam's Clubs and 43 Winn-Dixie grocery stores giving COVID-19 vaccines in 52 counties in Florida, according to the governor.
The state is operating 87 permanent vaccination sites in addition to the four federally-operated mass vaccination sites in Miami, Tampa, Orlando and Jacksonville.