TAMPA, Fla. — Demand for the COVID-19 vaccine in Florida is growing, but the supply doesn’t seem to be keeping up, making Florida’s goal to vaccinate its 4.5 million seniors a slow-rolling process.
We told you Friday about the news that many states would not be receiving an expected influx in supply from the federal reserve, as that reserve had already gone out. Trump Administration officials are pushing back on that, saying it was a misunderstanding about the rollout system; but Florida’s Director of Emergency Management is calling it “malpractice,” saying Florida’s seniors need a vaccination.
“This is a supply issue… We cannot give them enough vaccine because the federal government is not giving us enough vaccine, in fact, the federal government cut our supply of vaccine by almost 50 percent in the last couple of weeks,” said Jared Moskowitz, Director for Florida’s Division of Emergency Management.
But for those seniors who have been lucky enough to get their first dose, Director Moskowitz assures them they will get their second.
“People who got their first dose are gonna get their second dose. I don’t want them to be anxious that they’re not gonna get their second dose. They will get their second dose,” said Moskowitz.
So far, the CDC reports that Florida has received over 2 million doses of the vaccine. The Florida Department of Health reports administration of over 900,000 of those doses, and nearly 90 thousand people have gotten both their first and second doses. So taking a look at the numbers, the second doses do appear to be available.
But a path toward herd immunity is slower than doctors would like to see.
“We have a huge number of cases right now. We need to get, you know people, first off we need to do the public health measures to prevent transmission, but we also need to get our vulnerable people, and the people who come into contact with, get most exposures, we need to protect them,” said Dr. Michael Teng, Associate Professor at USF Health.
Dr. Teng warned that these snafus in the system won’t halt vaccinations, but will likely prevent those in the upcoming phases from getting a vaccination as soon as they had hoped for.
“Right now we’re in this Phase 1B, where anyone over 65 in Florida can get a vaccination, I think it’s gonna have to be a holding pattern until the federal government figures out where they are with vaccine allocation,” said Dr. Teng.
So far, the state has not released plans on expanding to additional phases, but officials have made it clear that their focus is on the seniors ages 65+.