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Gov. Ron DeSantis says seniors will be first to receive COVID-19 vaccine

'Our vaccines are going to be targeted for our elderly population,' governor says
Posted at 1:55 PM, Dec 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-22 13:55:42-05

THE VILLAGES, Fla. — Gov. Ron DeSantis said Tuesday that Florida remains focused on providing the COVID-19 vaccine to the state's elderly population when it becomes available to the general public.

"Our vaccines are going to be targeted for our elderly population," DeSantis said during a news conference at UF Health The Villages Hospital, which services one of Florida's most senior populations.

DeSantis was on hand as the first senior citizens of the state received their vaccine.

The Republican governor, who has been criticized for the state's response to the coronavirus pandemic, said the vaccines should go to "where the risk is the greatest" -- Florida's elderly.

"We are not going to put young, healthy workers ahead of our elderly, vulnerable population," DeSantis said.

Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at UF Health The Villages Hospital, Dec. 22, 2020
"Our vaccines are going to be targeted for our elderly population," Gov. Ron DeSantis tells reporters during a news conference at UF Health The Villages Hospital, Dec. 22, 2020, in The Villages, Fla.

That includes himself. DeSantis said Monday during a news conference in South Florida that he's "not stepping in line with anybody" to get vaccinated, saying he expects he'll receive one in "a couple more months."

The governor announced last week that "strike teams" comprised of National Guard and medical personnel have been giving out the COVID-19 vaccine to residents and staff members at long-term care facilities in Florida.

He said Florida has received 21,400 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, which was being split between long-term care facilities in Miami-Dade, Broward and Pinellas counties. He also said CVS and Walgreens have 60,000 doses of the vaccine.

"We now have this light at the end of the tunnel for our elderly where you're going to have, in relatively short order, access to a safe and effective vaccine," DeSantis said.

Because Florida has about 3.1 million residents who are ages 70 or older, DeSantis said not everyone will get the vaccine right away.

Senior citizen of The Villages becomes first to receive COVID-19 vaccine
A senior resident of The Villages receives a COVID-19 vaccine administered during a news conference at UF Health The Villages Hospital, Dec. 22, 2020, in The Villages, Fla.

"I wish it was as simple as just doing it overnight," he said. "That's not necessarily the case."

DeSantis said Tuesday's vaccinations are "kind of a preview of what we'll be seeing an awful lot of, hopefully, over the next weeks and months."

When asked how long until the greater senior population should expect to receive the vaccine, DeSantis said it won't be "tomorrow, but this is going to happen pretty soon."

"We want to be able to offer it as soon as we can," he said.

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Data from The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.