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Interview: Florida's Emergency Director Wants More Vaccine Help From Feds

Rep. Jared Moskowitz, D-Coral Springs, asks a question about a concealed weapons bill during a meeting of the criminal justice subcommittee, Wednesday, March 15, 2017, in Tallahassee, Fla.
Steve Cannon
The Florida Channel
Jared Moskowitz, director of Florida's Division of Emergency Management, says a lack of foreseeability is causing a lot of inoculation sites to be "nervous about running out of vaccines."

Jared Moskowitz tells "Florida Roundup" he receives updates from Operation Warp Speed only once a week and that the state is not getting enough vaccines to inoculate seniors at an acceptable rate.

Jared Moskowitz, the director of Florida's Division of Emergency Management, wants more help from the federal government to vaccinate Florida's seniors.

Moskowitz says he receives updates from Operation Warp Speed only once a week and the state is not getting enough vaccines to inoculate seniors at an acceptable rate.

So far, Florida has received about 1.2 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and it’s distributed about 30% of them. Demand for the shot has picked up since Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order to expand the priority for vaccine recipients to include people age 65 and up.

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On the "Florida Roundup," Moskowitz told hosts Tom Hudson and Melissa Ross that he wants to see more vaccine locations open statewide but the federal government has to increase the supply to meet Florida’s demand.

Here’s an excerpt of the discussion, which has been edited for clarity:

HUDSON: Through Wednesday, according to the state data, about 380,000 Floridians have received one dose of vaccine. Almost 15,000 have received both doses. How many doses has the state received in all?

MOSKOWITZ: So, doses that have been delivered, we've had 1.2 million first doses delivered. [And] 118,000 second doses delivered to the state.

Why are so few doses actually in the arms of Floridians if 1.2 million first doses are here? What about a third of those have been distributed?

About 30% of the doses we've received are in arms and, quite frankly, I think we've done actually more than that. But reporting of those doses and the Florida shots, sometimes the facilities that are doing those, they lag by two or three days. So the data is a little behind.

The only two states that have done more shots in arms than us are California with 20 million more people; Texas, with eight million more people. So we're third in the country. We're increasing every single, solitary day.

We've done 443,000 vaccinations total, 60,000 people just yesterday. And so this is not where we want to be. Obviously, I'm frustrated by the supply process.

People want to know where's the long-range planning, [when] we're only getting information every seven days. I only know what I'm going to receive seven days from now. I don't know what I'm getting in two weeks or three weeks. The federal government, through Operation Warp Speed, doesn't tell us that information.

Director Moskowitz, I'll ask you about what you expect in a week. But in terms of the 600,000 doses that are here in Florida that have yet to be in the arms of Floridians, where are those 600,000 doses?

Two-hundred thousand had to be set aside, because the federal government's long-term care program required you to take that allocation right off the top to turn on that program. As we know, that program has not gone well, which is why the governor directed me to start supplementing that program. And I'll vaccinate 50,000 people next week in ALFs (assisted living facilities). Two-hundred thousand are there.

The rest are in hospitals and county health departments. And they are getting them out of the hospitals [who] felt they had a moral obligation to hold on to the second dose, even though that was not the instruction given by the federal government or us. And quite frankly, that's because the federal government, Operation Warp Speed, has not been able to instill confidence that the second shot is going to arrive or when it's going to arrive.

So that lack of foreseeability, unfortunately, it's causing a lot of facilities to be nervous about running out of vaccines.
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Denise Royal