Florida’s DeSantis prioritizes seniors for next vaccine doses

Florida will ensure that seniors who do not live in long-term care facilities are the first members of the public to receive doses of a coronavirus vaccine, Gov. Ron DeSantisRon DeSantisRepublican club’s indoor holiday party in Queens goes viral for conga line Ousted Florida health researcher sues state over her home UK pushes White House to lift travel ban: report MORE (R) said Wednesday.

During a news conference, DeSantis said it plans to sign an executive order prioritizing seniors over the age of 65 for the next doses rather than key employees.

“We want to work to get this out to our elderly population. We think it’s very important to reduce mortality and reduce the number of people who have to be hospitalized because of COVID-19,” DeSantis said.

The move breaks with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which recommended people over the age of 75 as well as key non-healthcare workers such as police officers, grocery workers, teachers and meat packers the vaccine as part of “Phase 1b.”

The CDC prioritized health care workers and nursing home residents in the first round of vaccinations, and states mostly adopted the same guidelines.

But with limited doses, states and public health officials are being forced to ration the shots to very specific populations.

Some states outline specific subgroups in their plans, while others rely on front-line employers, such as hospitals, to decide who should be in front of the line.

Regardless of priorities, vaccinations take time.

Florida has more than 4 million people in the age group over 65, DeSantis said, advising people to be patient.

“We do not have enough vaccine to do all 65 years and older in Florida at the moment. We have vaccine doses in the hundreds of thousands,” DeSantis said.

DeSantis said he does not want to prioritize vaccination of younger people even if they work “essential” jobs, rather than an older one.

“It makes no sense for someone who’s 42 to jump in front of someone who’s 70,” DeSantis said. “I want to be sure that if there is a dose here in Pensacola back to this week, I want it to go to an elderly person. [person]. “

DeSantis said that once a hospital has finished vaccinating frontline medical workers, attention should be immediately directed to seniors over the age of 65.

He did not provide a timeline for when this could be implemented, but noted that as some county health departments begin receiving small amounts of vaccines, they will start in group 65 and older as early as next Monday.

So far, about 70,000 shots have been administered to frontline staff and seniors in long-term care facilities in Florida, DeSantis said.

Florida is not alone in breaking CDC guidance for the second round of vaccinations, but states do not have to follow what the agency recommends. There is no federal mandate on vaccination priorities.

For example, Texas announced this week that it also prioritizes those 65 and older in “phase 1b,” but also those considered high risks due to certain medical conditions, such as cancer, obesity, heart disease or type 2 diabetes. .

“Focusing on people aged 65 and over, or who have comorbidities, will protect the most vulnerable populations,” said Imelda Garcia, chair of the Texas Vaccine Award Panel and Associate Commissioner for Laboratory and Infectious Diseases at the Texas Department of State. Health services.

“This approach ensures that Texans at the most serious risk from COVID-19 can be protected across races and ethnic groups and wherever they work,” Garcia said.

The state does not prioritize teachers, agricultural workers, or other “significant” workers until there is more supply.

Massachusetts puts prisoners and correctional officers in its first round of vaccine recipients because they work and stay in assembly facilities. The first round will include first responders such as police officers and firefighters as well as health workers.

“It’s easy to do to reduce the value of prisoners. But they’re in assembly mode. The virus comes in, they do not have that many choices. They are monitored for their users,” said John Grabenstein, general manager of the Vaccine Dynamics consulting service.

Experts say it is not unreasonable for states to deviate from what the CDC recommends, and they understand that officials are struggling with thorny ethical issues.

States value different populations – some prioritize stopping the spread of the virus, while others prioritize limiting the number of deaths. Several states are expected to deviate from the CDC proposals in the future.

“I think it speaks to the difficulty of how to balance these things at the same time with limited doses, the risk of exposure and its consequences in relation to … morbidity and mortality,” said Bruce Gellin, president of global immunization for Sabin Vaccine Institute. .

“With a limited supply, I think that’s why the governors welcome the overall framework. They can work within it or maybe choose different, but at least that’s the starting point,” Gellin said.