MIAMI (WSVN) – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis addressed in detail the state’s plans to make COVID-19 vaccines available to residents once their distribution is approved by the federal government.
Speaking on Sunday, the governor said that approval could come as early as the Food and Drug Administration’s emergency use hearing set for Thursday.
“Next week, we anticipate an FDA approval for the Pfizer vaccine,” he said.
“Within hours, they can be vaccinating,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.
The promising development in the fight against the coronavirus could lead to vaccinations taking place earlier than some people anticipated.
“Within 24 hours of the FDA greenlighting with authorization, we’ll ship to all the states and territories that we work with,” said Azar.
If approved, DeSantis said, the vaccine will be given in phases. He said the first to receive it will be the most vulnerable:
- people living in long-term care facilities
- high-risk front-line healthcare workers
- anyone 65 and older and/or those with significant underlying health conditions
The first hospitals in South Florida to distribute the vaccines will be Jackson Health and Memorial Regional.
“As we work to get the most high-risk vaccinated in December and into January, you may see during the month of January and FDA approval for Johnson & Johnson, and perhaps that could start hitting by the time we get into February,” said DeSantis.
DeSantis’ message comes as long lines still surround testing sites and cases of COVID-19 in Florida continue to climb. The Florida Department of Health reported more than 8,200 new cases on Sunday.
“The middle of the month of March, we should have really covered most of the highly susceptible population, about 100 million people,” said Dr. Moncef Slaoui, Chief Scientific Adviser for Operation Warp Speed.
If approved, airlines like American are set to help transport the vaccine quickly.
DeSantis said taking the vaccine will be optional.
For more information about Thursday’s FDA hearing, click here.
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