DORAL, FL – Long-term care residents in Florida are the first in the list to receive shots of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to Gov. Ron DeSantis who made the announcement at a White House vaccines summit.
DeSantis said this could happen before the end of the year. “We could have every resident of nursing homes and long-term care facilities vaccinated in the month of December…That’s within our grasp right now.” DeSantis said as reported by Sun Sentinel.
He said long-term care residents in Florida are a priority because the coronavirus has not only impacted their health but “dramatically” reduced their quality of life.
Long-term care residents and staff account for 7,558 deaths in Florida, which represents about 39% of the state’s total death toll of 19,627, according to an article of the Sun Sentinel citing figures released Tuesday by the Florida Department of Health.
“You just can’t live normally, and it’s taking a huge toll on these folks,” said Gov. Ron DeSantis. “So we see loneliness, despair, even with having some visitation. So we need to get them back to normal. And getting them back to normal is going to mean so much to those residents and their families.”
The vaccinations will be voluntary and the plan is to reach about 145,000 residents of 4,000 facilities within the next few weeks that will receive the shots in clinics on-site thanks to a partnership between the nursing homes, CVS and Walgreens.
“I don’t know when we are going to get vaccines and how much distribution we are going to get, but we are working with the state to get ready and we will do everything we can to facilitate his goal,” said Kristen Knapp, spokeswoman for the Florida Health Care Association, an advocacy group for nursing homes to the media.
After long-term care residents are taken care of, the plan is to continue vaccinating the broader senior population and healthcare workers. Seniors could get shots as early as January.
It is still unknown if the vaccines would come from either Pfizer or Moderna that are pending approval this week and the next. Pfizer’s vaccine was already approved by the United Kingdom and Israel received this morning the first doses of that vaccine.