Tallahassee, Fla. – Today, Governor Ron DeSantis and Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) Director Jared Moskowitz held a discussion highlighting Florida’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution efforts. Governor DeSantis has signed an Executive Order to expand vaccine eligibility for all individuals 50 years of age and older beginning Monday, March 22.
Since the COVID-19 vaccine first arrived in Florida, the state has led the way nationally to prioritize the vaccine for those who need it most. Below are some of the top initiatives Florida has taken to date:
- Florida was the first state in the nation to put seniors first by prioritizing the vaccine for those 65 and older.
- Governor DeSantis made the decision to put Seniors First because more than 80 percent of COVID-19 related deaths occurred for individuals 65 and older, and more than 50 percent of Florida’s hospitalizations occurred for individuals 65 or older. Since vaccine distribution began, more than 3 million seniors over the age of 65 have been vaccinated – more than 67 percent of the 65 and older population in Florida.
- On January 5, Florida partnered with Publix to become the first state in the nation to work with a retail pharmacy partner to administer the vaccine. Since then, every Publix in the state has provided access to the vaccine, and Florida has worked with additional pharmacy partners, including CVS, Walgreens, Walmart, and Winn-Dixie to open nearly 900 locations across the state.
- Florida was the first state in the nation to send state strike teams into long-term care facilities, using the state’s initial allotments of the vaccine to vaccinate residents and staff in these facilities. Since then, state strike teams have administered more than 111,000 doses across all types of long-term care facilities, including Assisted Living Facilities, Nursing Homes, Independent Living Facilities, HUD Section 202 Facilities, Adult Day Cares and APD Group Homes.
- Florida was one of the first states in the nation to partner with the faith-based community to administer the vaccine in underserved areas. The state has hosted more than 70 one-day vaccination clinics in partnership with the faith based community to administer more than 71,000 doses of the vaccine.
Early in the vaccine distribution process, the state implemented a multi-pronged approach to vaccinations, including permanent sites, temporary sites in senior communities, and partnering with the faith-based community to reach underserved populations. In addition to more than 71,000 doses administered in partnership with the faith-based community, the state has administered more than 125,000 doses of the vaccine at senior living communities, and more than 3.1 million doses have been administered at state-supported and federally supported permanent sites.
The state has continued to increase vaccine access for underserved communities. The state worked with the Federal Government to open four large sites in underserved areas and was the first state in the nation to offer the vaccine using large federal sites with smaller satellite sites. Since these sites opened, they have offered the vaccine to more than 191,000 people. To ensure the sites are reaching underserved communities, the state has mobilized canvassing teams that can knock on 10,000 doors a day to spread awareness about the availability of the vaccine.
To expand efforts to bring the vaccine to underserved communities, the state is opening 9 more permanent sites in underserved communities next week. The state is also utilizing mobile busses to provide the vaccine at sites across the state, including food pantries and food drives.
To provide the vaccine to homebound individuals, the Florida Division of Emergency Management, Florida Department of Health, Florida Department of Elder Affairs and Florida Department of Veterans Affairs worked together to identify and vaccinate more than 3,500 homebound seniors, including Holocaust survivors and World War II veterans. Since then, Governor DeSantis also launched a survey and an email address (HomeboundVaccine@em.myflorida.com) that more than 4,000 homebound individuals have used to sign up to be visited by state strike teams.