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Governor updates Florida plan for COVID-19 vaccine distribution

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis holds up a flyer for a public service campaign as he speaks during a...
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis holds up a flyer for a public service campaign as he speaks during a news conference, Monday, Aug. 3, 2020, at the Broward Health Corporate Office in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. On Friday, the governor's office released a video promoting "One Goal One Florida," a public service campaign that also urges Floridians to keep their distance and wear masks as a way to lower the risk of coronavirus infections. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)(Wilfredo Lee | AP)
Published: Nov. 25, 2020 at 9:44 AM EST
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Florida Governor Ron DeSantis says pharmacists are ready to deploy to thousands of long term care facilities across the state to administer the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it’s available.

DeSantis made the remarks in a video released Wednesday morning on the state’s efforts on coronavirus treatments and plans to distribute the vaccine.

The update follows the governor’s recent conversations with officials of Operation Warp Speed, the Trump administration’s vaccine development and distribution program.

The governor says he also talked to top officials with CVS and Walgreens, who will help deploy the vaccine to Florida’s 4,000 long-term care facilities once its availabile. More than 3,000 long-term care facilities have already signed up, according to the governor’s office.

The governor says, until the vaccine is available, he’s set aside an additional 500,000 COVID-19 rapid tests for Florida’s long-term care facilities, so that all residents, staff, visitors and contractors can be testing in the next few weeks.

DeSantis reiterated that the elderly and healthcare workers will be first in line to get the vaccine.

“We are going to set priorities focusing on specifically those most vulnerable, elderly residents in long-term care facilities, as well as our frontline health care workers who are interacting with vulnerable patients day in and day out,” the governor said.

The governor also touted FDA approval of another antibody treatment for COVID-19, which he said will effectively doubles the supply of such treatments.

Here is text of the Governor’s message supplied by the governor’s office:

In recent days we’ve seen more breakthroughs in the fight against COVID-19.

Regeneron - a new monoclonal antibody therapy meant for those most vulnerable to COVID - has received its emergency use authorization and is now on its way to hospitals throughout the state.

This effectively doubles the supply of Bamlan - Eli Lilly’s monoclonal antibody treatment that arrived at hospitals just over a week ago. Like Bamlan, Regeneron will be administered by IV, and should be taken shortly after receiving a positive test. Both treatments are meant to keep people out of the hospital. In addition to Bamlan and Regeneron, Eli Lilly just received EUA to use the drug Baricitnib to treat hospitalized COVID-19 patients. A clinical study in Europe found that it may enhance survival in patients with severe COVID.

More good news about the vaccine has been coming out. December 10th is the date that the FDA will meet regarding the Pfizer vaccine and we anticipate the FDA to review Moderna’s vaccine shortly thereafter.

Importantly, I spoke with the top pharmacist at both CVS and Walgreens involved in operation Warp Speed yesterday. They assured me that as soon as they have the vaccine in hand, they are ready to deploy to Florida’s over-4,000 long-term care facilities to begin vaccinating the residents. Fortunately, more than 3,000 long-term care facilities have already signed up. And our goal will be to provide vaccines to every resident of long-term care facilities throughout the state.

Of course, the initial doses of the vaccine is estimated to be 40 million by the end of December nationwide. It’s important to know that each vaccine requires the individual to take two doses. So, 40 million doses will represent the vaccination of approximately 20 million Americans. Now that obviously is not going to be enough to vaccinate everyone right at the beginning, so there will be priorities set.

And in Florida, we are going to set priorities focusing on specifically those most vulnerable, elderly residents in long-term care facilities, as well as our frontline health care workers who are interacting with vulnerable patients day in and day out.

As more vaccine becomes available, we of course are going to want to get that into the broader senior community first, and then into the broader community at large. But as we anxiously await the vaccine, I think it’s important to double down on protecting our most vulnerable, particularly our vulnerable seniors in long-term care facilities. If we can redouble our efforts to protect the most vulnerable until the vaccine is deployed, we will help safeguard the lives of thousands of Floridians.

Accordingly, I have set aside an additional 500,000 rapid tests. Over these next few weeks, all long-term care facilities will be able to test all staff, all visitors, and all contractors. We have all longed for the day when our long-term care residents can return to normal and that day is finally within our grasp.

Thank you all. Happy Thanksgiving. And God Bless.

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