FORT MYERS, Fla. — Governor DeSantis said on Monday that Florida is on track to offer a vaccine to every resident and staff member of its nearly 4,000 long-term care facilities by Feb. 1.
He drew specific attention to Fort Myers when making the announcement. He was joined by LeadingAge Florida President and CEO Steve Bahmer who said a facility in Fort Myers will be vaccinating 900 residents Tuesday and 900 more Wednesday.
This is part of a ramp up we're seeing across the state of Florida. The goal is to meet that Feb. 1 goal for Florida's nearly 700 nursing homes and more than 3,000 assisted living facilities.
The governor highlighted some of the state's achievements from early on when they were anticipating the Pfizer vaccine. He said Florida was the first state to begin vaccinations in nursing homes and had over 105 done the first week of December.
He talked about where we currently stand, saying 97% of skilled nursing facilities have at least one vaccinated resident or staff member. Over 2,000 assisted living facilities have at least one person vaccinated.
Governor DeSantis, along with a medical expert at Flordia Gulf Coast University, has explained that with limited supply of the vaccine right now, the focus is on decreasing deaths and hospitalizations.
"We have done more senior vaccinations 65 and up than any other state in the country and it's not even close. We are hundreds of thousands ahead of our next closest competitor," said Governor DeSantis.
"By vaccinating those folks first, it's going to help decrease the deaths and the number of serious illnesses and hospital admissions with COVID-19," said Robert Hawkes, MSPA, PA-C, Program Director of the Physician Assistant Program at FGCU.
DeSantis said putting "Seniors First" for the vaccine is essential because of the impact that isolation during COVID-19 has had on them. It's why he also talked about Florida being one of the first to lift visitation restrictions during the pandemic.
He called on the federal government to send Florida more doses. He said right now, we're getting 266,000 a week.
If we get more first doses, he said you can anticipate to see the state do things like add another lane to some of the drive thru sites, give more to Publix stores, hospitals and county health departments.
He said the focus for the time being will remain on vaccinating seniors first, along with those frontline health-care workers.