DeSantis says all nursing homes will get vaccine, blames feds for shortage; White House pushes back

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said the flow of COVID-19 vaccines has been stagnant and the state needs more to meet the increasing demand, particularly for those residents in assisted living facilities.

At a news conference in Jacksonville on Monday, DeSantis said that by the end of the month all Florida nursing homes will have the vaccine. The governor also said that all skilled nursing facilities are 97% completed to date and that the rest will also have the vaccine by the end of January.

DeSantis mentioned that 22% of Florida seniors have received at least one shot. Florida has already delivered more than 900,000 first doses to seniors.  

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"We have done more senior vaccinations 65 and up than any other state in the country and it is not even close. We are hundreds of thousands ahead of our next closest competitor, which is good," DeSantis said.

The governor said the focus of the federal government should be increasing the number of doses available for the entire state.

Last week, DeSantis was critical of a proposal from the Biden administration to use the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) to set up vaccination centers, adding that the state already has the infrastructure in place. 

"I saw some of this stuff Biden’s putting out, that he’s going to create these FEMA camps, I can tell you, that’s not necessary in Florida," he said. "All we need is more vaccine. Just get us more vaccine."

White House press secretary Jen Psaki pushed back against DeSantis' comments during a White House news briefing on Monday, saying Florida has only administered about half of the vaccines it has been given.

"I will note, because we’re data first here, facts first here, they’ve only distributed about 50% of the vaccines that they have been given in Florida," Psaki said. "So clearly they have a good deal of the vaccine. That supply will need to continue to increase as they are able to effectively reach people across the state."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, as of Sunday, Florida has received 2.9 million doses from the federal government. The Florida Department of Health Sunday reported that the state had administered 1.5 million doses.

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"People say there are unused doses.  Those are mostly second doses," DeSantis said on Monday, adding there could be a lag in the federal data. Health care providers report doses up to 72 hours after they have been administered.

Florida's rate of vaccine administration versus distribution mirrors the national figure, also at around 53 percent.

Florida has vaccinated about 1.5 million people, of which at least 940,000 are 65 and older.

Tune in to FOX 35 Orlando for the latest Central Florida news.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.