Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis made a major announcement for Florida's seniors at a Wednesday morning news conference inside a Pensacola hospital where the COVID vaccine was distributed to essential workers.
DeSantis said he would sign an executive order guaranteeing seniors ages 65 and over would be the first to get the vaccine among the general public - emphasizing he hopes there would be enough vaccines by the start of next year for all seniors.
DeSantis was at the Ascension Sacred Heart Hospital where workers received doses of the Moderna vaccine that was recently approved.
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“The problem is people that are 73, 74 would be in the back of the line for a young 21-year-old worker who's considered ‘essential.’ That doesn't, I think, make sense,” DeSantis said.
He also said doctors should use their judgment to vaccinate people with underlying health conditions like cancer that make them more vulnerable to the virus.
The next priority when more vaccine arrives would be law enforcement, firefighters and teachers, DeSantis said.
Left out of the governor's list were teachers, who voiced their displeasure.
In a statement, United Teachers of Dade President Karla Hernandez-Mats said:
"We are disappointed in Governor DeSantis’ decision to not include school personnel, particularly our veteran educators, as part of this second round of vaccines as recommended by the CDC. We believe a more common sense approach would be to make the vaccine available to those teachers who wish to take it and stand to be most impacted by COVID-19. If the intent is to keep schools open so that students can benefit from in-person learning in a safe environment, then the Governor should have listened to the CDC recommendation and made us a priority."
Tuesday, DeSantis was in the Central Florida city of The Villages where COVID-19 vaccinations were beginning for healthcare workers and elderly residents.
"Our vaccines are going to be targeted for our elderly population," DeSantis said. "Our vaccines are going to be targeted where the risk is the greatest."
DeSantis said the state received about 179,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine last week and was expected to receive another 127,000 doses this week.
He said the state was also expected to get about 367,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine this week.