DeSantis makes rounds, touts drive-thru and Publix vaccines sites

Gov. Ron DeSantis
Gov. Ron DeSantis

Gov. Ron DeSantis’ strategy for the COVID-19 vaccine rollout remains “seniors first.” 

On Tuesday, DeSantis held a press conference at The Villages, where he doubled down on his plan.

“Putting seniors first was the right decision,” DeSantis said. 

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The governor said the The Villages vaccine clinic can handle up to 1,000 vaccinations a day, adding it is accessible by golf cart or vehicle.

DeSantis said more than half of the 597,119 first-dose vaccinations made in the state were administered to residents 65 and older.

As of Jan. 11, the Florida Department of Health COVID-19 vaccine summary reports 51,234 people have finished both doses of the vaccine bringing the state total to 648,353 vaccinated since mid-December.

The 65-to-74-year-old category reports 197,953 vaccinations as the highest rate and 75-to84 year-old recipients as the second highest number with 107,522.

The lowest vaccine distribution has occurred in the 16-to-24-year-old category with 13,449 recipients.

At DeSantis’ second stop on Tuesday, he announced that along with Publix stores in Citrus, Hernando, and Marion counties, locations in the panhandle areas of Escambia, Okaloosa, and Santa Rosa counties would begin offering vaccinations.

“They will begin taking reservations Wednesday and start giving out shots Thursday,” he said. “Signups start tomorrow.”

DeSantis called the development “exciting” and said Florida has administered more vaccines than any state: over 300,000 senior citizen shots.

“We are the only state in the U.S. where the majority of shots have gone to elderly,” he said. 

The governor’s comments come on the same day the Trump administration issued new guidelines expanding vaccine eligibility to anyone over age 65. Officials also began releasing second vaccine doses they had been holding back, saying new production would meet the needs of everyone who received a first vaccine. 

DeSantis said that another 250,000 vaccine doses arrived in Florida on Monday and Tuesday and that they will be given out immediately.

“The momentum is good,” he said. We’re leading the nation.”

No Publix supermarkets in Alachua County are offering the vaccine service yet. Those interested in learning about the process can visit the Publix vaccine web page for details.

In Alachua County, 15,949 doses have been administered as of Jan. 11th.

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