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Gov. Ron DeSantis talks COVID-19 vaccine distribution in Florida

'We should be optimistic about what could be coming down the pike here,' DeSantis says
Posted at 9:43 AM, Dec 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-11 13:27:21-05

TAMPA, Fla. — The highly anticipated distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine in Florida took center stage on Friday in Tampa.

During a roundtable discussion about mental health, Gov. Ron DeSantis said he expects the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to officially approve an emergency use authorization for Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine as early as Friday.

"This is a really important thing for our country and our state," DeSantis said. "We should be optimistic about what could be coming down the pike here."

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WEB EXTRA: Gov. Ron DeSantis talks COVID-19 vaccine distribution in Florida

The governor said Florida will initially receive around 180,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, which could arrive within a week.

97,500 doses will be sent to five hospital systems throughout the state for high-contact and high-exposure health care personnel. 60,450 doses will go to CVS and Walgreens for use in long-term care facilities.

"If everything continues to go like we think in terms of the distribution keeps flowing, my goal after the long-term care facilities and in terms of the hospital workers would be getting it out to the elderly and the senior citizens and the broader population. That's where most of the risk is," DeSantis said.

The initial doses will be sent to five hospital systems in Miami-Dade County, Broward County, Tampa, Orlando, and Jacksonville.

"What we tried to do was just pick big systems in big parts in the state," DeSantis said.

The governor said those hospitals have good storage capacity and the ability to store the COVID-19 vaccine at certain temperatures.

Calling it a "beta test" to make sure the shipping and distribution system works, DeSantis said if the initial delivery is successful, the vaccine can then be sent to more hospitals throughout Florida.

"[The government] felt that if we had it sent to 50 hospital systems and there was problems, that it would really exacerbate the rollout of this," DeSantis said.

On Thursday, the FDA's Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee endorsed Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine, saying the shot appears to be safe and effective against COVID-19 in people 16 and older.