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Lehigh Acres retirement community among first in line for COVID-19 vaccine

Posted at 11:01 PM, Dec 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-04 13:31:00-05

LEHIGH ACRES, Fla. — Florida will soon begin to receive its round of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Governor Ron DeSantis provided an update on Florida’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan this week.

“Next week we anticipate an FDA approval for the Pfizer vaccine, and we believe the following week we’ll see FDA approval for the Moderna vaccine,” said Gov. DeSantis.

These combined efforts will allow for the vaccination of roughly 20 million Americans by the end of December.

“Of course we want to get as many vaccines for our residents as possible,” said Gov. DeSantis.

But like other states, Florida will not have enough supply to vaccinate everyone.

So it is prioritizing residents of long-term care facilities, and high-risk frontline healthcare workers.

"Our highest priority is to keep our residents safe, and our staff safe," said Sally Carman, Executive Director of Fountain Crest Retirement Community in Lehigh Acres.

Carman says the news of the vaccine arriving soon is exciting.

“I’ve had residents even ask me today, and we’re just so excited for them being the most vulnerable population that they are the first ones to get it,” said Carman.

Fountain Crest Retirement Community is among the first communities to enroll in the CDC's COVID-19 vaccine program.

Through this program, Fountain Crest has been paired with CVS to help administer the vaccine to its residents and staff members once it's FDA approved.

"We're hopeful we'll be one of the first ones," said Carman.

Carman says it'll be up to the residents and staff members if they choose to get the vaccine. It will not be mandated.

A point DeSantis also addressed this week.

“While we are encouraging and we want to make available the vaccine, no one will be mandated to take the vaccine,” said Gov. DeSantis.

But a question remains, can a business mandate its employees to take a vaccine once they are more readily available? we asked a legal expert.

“There is a supreme court ruling, dating back to the smallpox vaccine, that says they can require it,” said Pamella Seay.

Seay is a lawyer and Justice Studies professor at Florida Gulf Coast University.

“Private companies have a little more latitude that they can make some mandates that a public company might not be able to make,” said Seay.

But Seay says there are some limitations.

“Religious and philosophical reasons are certainly valid that you have the right to say no,” said Seay.

Meanwhile, at the Fountain Crest Retirement Community, Carman says they will continue with their safety protocols in place to keep everyone healthy.

“We have not had any covid cases here the whole time so we’re very fortunate for that," said Carman.