Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday promised a smoother process as more vaccine arrives.
During a news conference in Pensacola, DeSantis said, “I think what will happen as we kind of continue on is that the demand will start to be met, the demand will go down a little bit, the supplies will start to go up, and that means we’re going to continue to look for more innovative ways to be able to deliver it to the people — particularly the people who need it most, our senior citizens,” the governor said.
DeSantis won a vote of confidence from Jimmy Patronis, Florida’s chief financial officer, a member of the state Cabinet and northwest Florida resident. Both are Republicans.
“Gov. DeSantis has been working tirelessly to push the vaccination out, to see it first-hand, and if it means going to every single corner of the state to ensure that this is part of a smooth-flowing process, that our citizens are being protected, that’s exactly what he’s doing,” he said.
Patronis also called for legislative action, to protect employers.
“We need to tell the Legislature that we need COVD liability protection for our businesses. And not just for our businesses — it’s for our not-for profits and for our health care providers. It’s critical that we see this happen in the coming legislative session,” Patronis said.
DeSantis has earmarked initial supplies — after all the health care workers and nursing home residents who want the shots get them — for people 65 and older.
The state is not distributing the vaccines directly; rather, the federal government is shipping supplies to hospitals, pharmacies, and public health clinics identified by the state.
On Wednesday, DeSantis said the state is shifting supplies from facilities that can’t immediately arrange to distribute them to those that can. Stocks at slow facilities can be restored later, he said.
“What you don’t want the government to do is to try to displace our health care infrastructure that we have here. They know that they’re doing. They know how to distribute this,” the governor said.
“This is scaling up. You’re going to start to see it. The hospitals are in a good stride now. Look, at the end of the day, when you get a vaccine dropped on your doorstep right before Christmas … that’s not the best time to get it in terms of staffing and everything like that,” he said.
“There are going to be a lot of shots going into arms. We’ll do way more shots this week than we did last week.”
DeSantis did acknowledge that using websites for vaccine registration might not be the best strategy for senior citizens — who tend not to be comfortable with that medium.
“It’s an absolutely valid concern,” he said, and the state, hospitals, and other venues are adding workers to take reservations over the telephone.
This report first appeared on the website of the Florida Phoenix, a nonprofit news organization dedicated to coverage of state government and politics from Tallahassee.