Florida’s long term care facilities will be some of the first to receive the COVID vaccine once it becomes available, Gov. Ron DeSantis said Wednesday.
DeSantis made the announcement Wednesday in a video statement, adding nearly three quarters of the state’s over 4,000 facilities have already signed up.
“We are going to set priorities focusing on specifically those most vulnerable, elderly residents in long-term care facilities, as well as our frontline health care workers who are interacting with vulnerable patients day in and day out,” DeSantis said regarding the doses that are estimated to be ready by the end of December nationwide.
DeSantis added that an additional 500,000 rapid tests have been set aside for these facilities as well.
In a statement last Thursday, DeSantis said the state has been preparing for vaccines since July and has been purchasing supplies, including purchasing five million syringes, five million needles and five million alcohol swabs to-date.
Both Pfizer and Moderna have reported vaccines with around 95% effectiveness in recent weeks, but both are awaiting FDA approval.
Pfizer's vaccine requires that it be stored in ultracold temperatures, and Florida has identified five different hospital systems who have the ability to store the vaccine at those temperatures, DeSantis said.
DeSantis said that as soon as the FDA approves the vaccines, they will then go out within the next 24 hours.
"We expect our hospitals, hopefully, to receive these within the next 3 to 6 weeks. It is all contingent on when the FDA approves," the governor said.
The governor said the state won't force anyone to receive the vaccine.
"Our goal is to make all safe and effective COVID vaccines available to Floridians who want them, but the state will not mandate that Floridians take these vaccines. That is going to be the choice of each and every Floridian," DeSantis said.