NewsLocal NewsCoronavirus


Florida expands COVID-19 vaccination program to Bay of Pigs veterans

Palm Beach County ranks high for vaccinating seniors in state, DeSantis says
Gov. Ron DeSantis holds news conference in Miami on Feb. 8, 2021
Posted at 8:58 AM, Feb 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-08 11:10:38-05

MIAMI — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Monday that the state is expanding the COVID-19 vaccination of homebound seniors program to people who participated in the Bay of Pigs invasion.

DeSantis made the announcement at the Bay of Pigs Museum and Library in Miami.


Three veterans of the 1961 attempt to overthrow Fidel Castro's Cuban Revolution received their shot at the announcement.

All three of the veterans on hand Monday were captured by Castro's forces and spent 20 months as prisoners of war.

The governor said the expansion of the program will also be available to spouses of the veterans.

NEWS CONFERENCE: Florida expands COVID-19 vaccination program to Bay of Pigs veterans (25 minutes)

Speaking about the availability of shots at retail pharmacy locations like Publix, DeSantis said he was pleased with Palm Beach County's rollout.

"It's been very successful. Palm Beach, we have over 40 percent of the seniors that have gotten shots, and I think Palm Beach per capita is probably one of the top-performing counties because (the vaccine) was in 67 Publixes in Palm Beach County," DeSantis said.

He said the Publix vaccine program would soon be expanding to Miami-Dade County.

"We're about a million and a half reported seniors [who] have received at least one dose. We're about three million total doses that have been administered," DeSantis said.

Bay of Pigs veteran receives COVID-19 vaccine in Miami on Feb. 8, 2021
A Bay of Pigs veteran receives the COVID-19 vaccine in Miami on Feb. 8, 2021.

The governor estimated that a third of Florida seniors have already received their first shot of the coronavirus vaccine.

"We're close to 75 percent of all vaccines that have been administered have gone to senior citizens," DeSantis said. "That is prioritizing the right groups."

However, the governor was disappointed by the federal government's end of February date for approving the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

"I think in these times, working around the clock is something you should be doing to get these things approved as soon as possible," DeSantis said.

He said once the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is approved, it will be "shipped the next day," and Florida's share could be "pretty meaningful."

Although the demand for the vaccine continues to be high in Florida, DeSantis is hopeful that it will soften as more seniors receive shots and a third vaccine is approved soon.