TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Today, Governor Ron DeSantis provided an update on Florida’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan, as well as details on the different types of vaccines that have been developed by several companies.
FDA approval for the Pfizer vaccine is anticipated for next week, and the Moderna vaccine the following week. These combined efforts will allow for the vaccination of roughly 20 million Americans by the end of December.
Florida, like other states, will not receive enough supply initially to vaccinate every citizen. Priorities have been set for those at highest risk to get the vaccine first.
Florida will prioritize as follows:
Top priority will be residents of long-term care facilities. They are at the greatest risk and the vaccine could have a tremendous positive impact on them.
Second, vaccines will be given to health care workers who are in high risk and high contact environments.
Third, and based on available supply, vaccines will go to those 65 and older, as well as individuals with significant comorbidities.
"Now, importantly, while we are encouraged and we want to make available the vaccine, no one will be mandated to take the vaccine," said DeSantis. "This will be available, but not mandated."
As the vaccine begins to arrive, it's important to remember that there are different types of vaccines and that each has slightly different requirements.
So far, Pfizer and Moderna are the only two companies to formally apply for FDA approval, but more are expected to follow suit.
The Pfizer vaccine will likely be the first to arrive. It has extraordinary storage requirements and requires two doses 21 days apart.
Depending on the number of doses received, that amount will serve for vaccinating half as many people considering one individual will require two doses.
The same applies to the Moderna vaccine. However, this vaccine does not require the same ultra-cold storage, but the wait between administering doses is slightly longer at 28 days.
There are other vaccines on the horizon. DeSantis believes the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is promising. It has already been produced at an industrial scale, only requires one dose, and it doesn't require any type of special storage.
"So, as we work to get the most high risk vaccinated in December and into January, you may see during the month of January, an FDA approval for Johnson & Johnson, and perhaps that could start hitting by the time we get into February," said DeSantis. "There would be enough produced of that to have widespread vaccination."
Distributing a vaccine across a large and diverse state is challenging, but is a major priority for the state.
DeSantis promised to keep the public up-to-date with the latest information as the process unfolds.