Governor DeSantis mistakenly blames health system for vaccine distribution issues in Lee County

Gov. Ron DeSantis
Posted at 12:55 AM, Jan 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-06 01:50:24-05

LEE COUNTY, Fla. — In a heated discussion with a reporter on Monday, Governor DeSantis blamed hospital system officials for shortcomings with COVID-19 vaccinations in Lee County, an effort that was actually spearheaded by the health department and county government.

RELATED: Rough rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine isn’t just a Florida problem

"We distributed vaccines to hospitals, and the hospital said, 'First come, first serve. If you show up, we'll do it.' So, they didn't use a registration system. There wasn't anything that was done. And there's a lot of demand for it,” said DeSantis. “So, the state is not dictating the hospitals...That would be a total disaster. These guys are much more competent to be able to deliver health care services than a state government could ever be.”

MORE: Lee County leaders acknowledge public frustration with vaccine availability

Complaints about seniors waiting in lines overnight as Lee County defaulted to a first-come, first-served basis for vaccinations, prompted CNN reporter Rosa Flores to question the Governor and the state’s approach. She also cited similar issues in Duval, Broward, and Orange Counties.

After much criticism, Lee County changed the way they distribute the vaccines. A phone reservation system came a week after the county tried a first-come, first-serve approach.

RELATED: Long road to get vaccinated, 92-year-old receives first dose

The county hired a vendor to handle the phone reservations, which began to be accepted at noon on Monday. The vendor said all 5,000 appointment slots were filled within minutes of the reservation line opening up to the public.

MORE: Vaccination distribution in Lee County going smoothly for those who registered

The Florida Department of Health of Lee County says people who want the vaccine will soon get another chance, but they will have to use the phone reservation line and there is no way to get on a waiting list in the meantime.