DeSantis bucks CDC recommendation, says those 70 and older will get vaccine

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Nurse Christine Philips, left, administers the Pfizer vaccine to Vera Leip, 88, a resident of John Knox Village, Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020, in Pompano Beach. Leip was the first resident to receive the vaccine in Florida. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)

UPDATE: On Wednesday during a press conference, Gov. DeSantis said he is lowering the age to 65+ in an upcoming executive order.

NOTE: The COVID-19 vaccine is NOT currently available to the general public.

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday announced another 300,000 doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine will arrive in Florida on Tuesday. He also expects more of Pfizer’s vaccine to arrive.

Who will get the next round? People age 70 and up.

Florida has a large older population and we know they’re more vulnerable to the virus, but DeSantis’ decision goes against the recommendation made by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s advisory panel.

“I had folks from the nursing home community tell me when the vaccines… when these strike teams started showing up at some of these facilities, you have people with tears in their eyes because it’s like, finally, we have some help on the way,” DeSantis said Monday.

Next on the priority list, according to CDC recommendations, should be people 75 and older, as well as frontline essential workers like police officers, firefighters, teachers and grocery store employees. DeSantis said Florida isn’t going to do that.

“The problem with that is, the way I see it, is a 22-year-old food service worker would get a vaccine over a 74-year-old grandmother,” the governor said.

So he plans to prioritize people aged 70 and up who aren’t in long-term care facilities. He promised to provide details during a news conference Tuesday.

“If you took a 25-year-old sheriff’s deputy somewhere in Florida and said I have one vaccine, you want it or should I get it to your parents or grandparents who may be over 70, I think 99% of them would say oh no, give it to the grandparents, give it to the parents,” DeSantis said.

Could we see older people start to get the vaccine next month? It’s possible. The governor expects the state to receive more than 1 million doses by the end of January.

Lee Health said they expect to take delivery of the vaccine as soon as Tuesday, but not yet for the general population. First in line are doctors, nurses and hospital staff, along with residents of nursing homes.

NCH Healthcare System in Collier County began receiving the vaccine on Monday, but again, only for their frontline workers, not for the general public.

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