Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
News about coronavirus in Florida and around the world is constantly emerging. It's hard to stay on top of it all but Health News Florida can help. Our responsibility is to keep you informed, and to help discern what’s important for your family as you make what could be life-saving decisions.

DeSantis: Pinellas Getting 8,000 Additional Vaccines, FEMA Could Help With Distribution

DeSantis said 3,000 Pinellas County seniors will be vaccinated over three days beginning Thursday.
DeSantis said 3,000 Pinellas County seniors will be vaccinated over three days beginning Thursday.

DeSantis said 3,000 doses of the vaccine will be given out in Pinellas Park and an additional 5,000 doses will be provided to Pinellas County next week.

A day after taking heat for holding exclusive vaccine distribution events in wealthy neighborhoods, Gov. Ron DeSantis was touting two events in more working-class neighborhoods in Pinellas County.

DeSantis said the events in Pinellas Park and Largo were set up with less than 24 hours’ notice. He said the Pinellas Park location will provide vaccines to about 3,000 residents 65 years and older over three days. And he announced that another 5,000 vaccines will be added to the county's existing allotment next week.

The additional doses are needed to put Pinellas on pace with counties in the rest of Florida, which have on average provided 42 percent of all seniors with at least one shot.

“But in Pinellas County we're at 35 percent right now," DeSantis said. "So we said some of those areas that have a lot of seniors that are percentages below the state average, we want to surge more doses there."

DeSantis also addressed when the broader population may begin to have access to vaccines.

“As of right now, we still have more demand than supply on a weekly basis, and so we’re going to stay the course with putting seniors first,” he said. “Once the seniors are taken care of, then I think we’ll be able to do more.”

The announcement came after DeSantis made national news for helping coordinate a vaccine distribution site in an affluent area of Manatee County's Lakewood Ranch community, where only residents of two ZIP codes were given access to shots.

DeSantis defended that decision on Thursday saying he is just working to deliver vaccines to areas where there are high populations of seniors.

And after initially being against the idea of setting up FEMA vaccination sites in Florida, DeSantis changed course and said he's working with the federal government to make that happen.

"I think you will have one of those sites if they do approve it, in the Tampa Bay area, most likely in Hillsborough county,” he said. “They're putting, I think, about 20,000 doses per site per week, so that will be a great increase."

He changed his mind, he said, because FEMA would bring additional doses to Florida.

He says FEMA could begin bringing the sites to the state in March.

Copyright 2021 WUSF Public Media - WUSF 89.7

Cathy Carter is the education reporter for WUSF 89.7 and StateImpact Florida.