National,  State

Biden and DeSantis Disagree Over Florida Vaccine Rollout

Following his inauguration, President Biden promised to distribute all available doses of the coronavirus vaccine. Governor DeSantis, R-FL, feels that Biden is already falling short of his promise, causing tension between Florida and the federal government shortly after Biden was sworn in.

DeSantis has expressed concern over the insufficient number of vaccinations being sent to Florida following the establishment of his Seniors First campaign. The Seniors First campaign ensures that Floridians aged 65 and older will receive 70% of vaccines available to the state. Since the campaign was launched in late January, the vaccine has been met with greater demand than seen before.

At a Jan. 25 press conference outside a nursing home in Jacksonville, DeSantis said, “Our capacity far outstrips what we’re being given by the feds… We were told weeks ago that we would start to see increases now, and we haven’t seen it.” 

Many Floridians have been assured they will receive their vaccines as soon as possible, so the possibility of any vaccine distribution hindrance would be cause for greater anticipation by both the state government and those awaiting their first and second doses.

Again on Jan. 25, Press Secretary Jen Psaki directly addressed DeSantis’s concerns about Florida vaccine distribution in a White House press conference.

“We’re data first here, fact first here — they’ve only distributed about 50% of the vaccines that they have been given in Florida. So, clearly, they have a good deal of the vaccine,” Psaki said.

Psaki continued, “…The President is going to be focused on [effective vaccine distribution] in a bipartisan manner, regardless of what any elected official may have to say.”

Either way, DeSantis’s concerns were addressed when the Biden administration ordered more vaccinations to be sent to Florida. The state received 307,000 doses, the largest COVID-19 vaccine shipment seen in the nation within the past few months, and a huge step up from the regular 260,000 doses Florida was receiving each week.

This large shipment is part of Biden’s plan to get “at least 100 million COVID-19 vaccine shots into the arms of the American people in the first 100 days,” according to a Dec. 8 press conference.

DeSantis said in a press conference on Feb. 1 that he plans to distribute the vaccines as soon as possible. Four thousand of the initial first doses of the Moderna vaccine are to be handed out at a drive-up site in The Villages, 5,000 of the doses will be given out at King’s Point senior community in Sun City Center, and 3,500 will be given out at the Palmera community in Broward County.

“So far, Florida has given a higher percentage of its vaccinations to senior citizens than any other state in the country,” DeSantis said. “We decided to be the first state in the country to put seniors first. That has been our goal. That’s been our policy.”

In the same press conference, DeSantis reported that the state has vaccinated almost 30% of senior residents with the first dose of either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccination.

As of Mar. 14, just under 70% of vaccinated Floridians are 65 and older. This demographic includes those who either received the first dose of the vaccine or completed both doses.

“So, we’re making some really good progress as a country on this,” DeSantis said. “And we want to keep those trends going as we go forward.”

Featured image: A Florida resident receiving their vaccine. Unedited photo by Christian Emmer used under a Creative Commons license (

Check out other recent articles from the Florida Political Review here.        

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