Governor hints ‘workforce’ could be next priority group for vaccine in Florida

Reporter: Taylor Smith Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:
FILE – In this Jan. 12, 2021, file photo, a pharmacist with Walgreens Pharmacy prepares a syringe with the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for residents and staff at the The Palace assisted living facility in Coral Gables. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File)

The governor responded to talks of what could come when the State next expands the eligibility for the vaccine.

Gov. Ron DeSantis hinted Monday people in the workforce could be the next group to get offered the coronavirus vaccine in Florida, but there are some hurdles.

“People in the workforce will be top priority, but doing it if everything is on track is having another vaccine introduced,” DeSantis said publicly.

People we spoke to at the beginning of the week said they think there are still a lot of people at risk who need to be vaccinated before adding another group to the list.

“I’m so scared because, if I contract it with these lung conditions, I may not make it through,” Victoria Frain said.

Frain is already having a hard time getting the vaccine.

“If there’s another whole category of people before I get mine, it’s really going to be a disappointment,” Frain said.

The governor’s statement has William Berlaint, who has underlying health conditions, worried too.

“I think that is going to be disastrous for me because I have some conditions,” Berlaint said. “I’m diabetic. I have one kidney. When you add the workforce on there, that brings the 1,500 shots open to a million people, and I will never get a shot.”

Health care workers also told us they are still having trouble getting the vaccine. A health care worker we spoke to wanted to remain anonymous but told us they have been refused a vaccine because they are under 65 years old. They say it’s upsetting because they have direct contact with patients.

There’s no time frame for when another group will be eligible for the vaccine outside of those with proof of Florida residency who are 65 and older.

The governor said the State is waiting on another vaccine to be introduced to help with the lack of vaccines. The governor said he expects Johnson & Johnson to submit data sooner than later for its one-dose vaccine. The efficacy rate for that vaccine remains unclear.

“Johnson & Johnson is submitting data anytime now for one-dose regimen. Efficacy will be lesser than Moderna and Pfizer,” DeSantis said. “For younger people, it will be good.”

Some people we spoke to agree health care workers and those with underlying conditions should be prioritized before other groups.

“It is a step in the wrong direction, doesn’t mean the workforce isn’t important,” Thomas Micheal said.

“These people with underlying health conditions really should be taking precedent,” Rita Ruggles said.

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