NewsLocal NewsInvestigations


Gov. Ron DeSantis reaffirms home health care workers eligible for COVID-19 vaccine

Contact 5: Home health care workers in 'blind spot' for vaccine
'Well, they can get vaccinated,' Gov. Ron DeSantis says of home health care workers
Posted at 6:32 PM, Feb 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-25 18:39:16-05

FORT PIERCE, Fla. — "Well, they can get vaccinated," is the message Gov. Ron DeSantis had Thursday in response to a Contact 5 investigation finding home health care workers hitting roadblocks trying to access the COVID-19 vaccine.

A Contact 5 report found despite being included in the governor's executive order as eligible for the vaccine, home health care workers are struggling to get inoculated against the coronavirus.

In a recent interview, Kyle Simon, director of government affairs and communications for the Home Care Association of Florida, said that "home health care workers are in the blind spot" when it comes to the vaccine rollout.

"The vast majority of agencies we're hearing from throughout the state are saying that just a small portion of their workforce have actually gotten the vaccine," Simon told Contact 5.

Contact 5 attended a news conference Thursday afternoon in Fort Pierce to ask DeSantis about the recent investigation.

Contact 5 catches up with Gov. Ron DeSantis to get answers about home health care workers

"They're eligible, people that are in contact with patients like that, so we actually just got someone teed up for that here, and we're happy to be able to accommodate that," DeSantis said. "It's important."

Contact 5 profiled Patrice Gagnon, a home health care worker and a registered nurse who's been unable to get the vaccine, despite being on the wait list in two counties.

"If I took all of that away from them because of this, that's just a horrible feeling to live with every single day," Gagnon said in an recent interview.

RELATED: Palm Beach County health director says home health care workers need to 'be patient' for COVID-19 vaccine

When pressed on what home health care workers should do if they can't get vaccinated, DeSantis said "they can get vaccinated."

"If you go, the hospital sites, the community sites, they are eligible under this order, and they should pursue that just like the seniors are doing," DeSantis told Contact 5. "Absolutely, the front-line health care workers are eligible."

Meanwhile, home health care workers like Gagnon continue to feel overlooked.

"If I did work in a hospital or if I worked in a long-term care facility, I would've been vaccinated by now," Gagnon previously told Contact 5.

Email the Contact 5 Investigators
Share your news tips and story ideas with WPTV's investigations team.