Gov. Ron DeSantis today signed an executive order that prioritizes Covid-19 vaccines for residents and employees of assisted living facilities and nursing homes, people 65 and older, and health care workers with direct patient contact.
The order does not bar hospitals from inoculating anyone deemed “extremely vulnerable” to Covid-19, and is otherwise silent on people with pre-existing conditions that make them susceptible to severe cases of Covid, such as diabetes, obesity and breathing issues.
But the order contradicts Centers for Disease Control guidelines issued on Tuesday that recommend that, once health care and long-term care workers and residents have received the vaccine, the next groups should not be defined only by age, but also by critical front-line jobs and underlying conditions.
The CDC’s phase 1b calls for people 75 and older to be the next priority, but also “non–health care frontline essential workers.” Those include K-12 teachers, school staff, child care workers, and “critical workers in high-risk settings—workers who are in industries essential to the functioning of society and substantially higher risk of exposure.” The CDC defines those as “first responders (e.g., firefighters and police officers), corrections officers, food and agricultural workers, U.S. Postal Service workers, manufacturing workers, grocery store workers, public transit workers, and those who work in the education sector.”
DeSantis said all that will be circumvented to focus on people 65 and older.
“The CDC had an advisory committee that actually initially recommended that seniors not initially be next in line, that you do essential workers, many of them are very young, many of whom did not have significant health problems,” DeSantis said today, “and I think that would have been a huge mistake. It would have increased mortality for sure, compared to what would have been done. They’ve now said, well, you should do essential workers and 75 and up at the same time. The problem is, people that are 73, 74 would be in the back of the line for a young 21-year-old worker who’s considered quote essential, that doesn’t I think make sense.”
Taking one sector in particular–education–DeSantis and his Department of Education have put local districts under pressure to provide in-person education from kindergarten through 12th grade. Though they have allowed districts, Flagler among them, to offer remote education for families that prefer not to be on site, DeSantis renewed his push for in-person education come January regarding students who are underperforming. Ay every step, his administration has issued mandates without providing financial or logistical support. His executive order today again appears to undercut his push for in-person education–delaying the vaccination of teachers and school staff who are in constant contact with high-risk populations even as he demands that they continue to be on the front lines of the pandemic. (Last week the Flagler and Volusia school districts held a memorial for Tom Russell, the Flagler Palm Coast High School principal who died of Covid-19 on Dec. 9. He was 61 and had taken every possible precaution.)
“The vaccines are going to be targeted where the risk is going to be greatest, and that’s in our elderly population,” the governor said. “We are not going to put young, healthy workers ahead of our elderly, vulnerable population.” He did not define “young, healthy workers.”
DeSantis is a lawyer with no public health experience or background in science, medicine or epidemiology. He has consistently resisted or countered CDC guidelines. The state Health Department’s surgeon general has not appeared alongside DeSantis at any of his news conferences since spring, nor have medical or public health personnel except in local settings that were hosting the governor, rather than as expert voices. Today he again appeared on his own in front of cameras to contrast CDC guidelines critically with his own executive order.
According to CDC guidelines, Phase 1c would then move on to people 65–74 years, those 16–64 with with high-risk medical conditions, and essential workers not included in Phase 1b. The CDC is focusing on people 75 and older because they have borne a disproportionate amount of the risk of death.
DeSantis said county health departments will begin vaccinating individuals 65 and older in the coming weeks, some as early as Monday, as supply allows, though for now only small amounts of vaccines have been received by certain health departments. Flagler County is not yet among them. The governor has not explained how older people may sign up to be vaccinated, saying those details would become clearer at the beginning of next week.
As of today, 68,133 vaccines had been administered statewide, according to the latest report by the state Department of Health, almost 60,000 of them, or 87 percent, to people younger than 65, and 59 percent of them administered to women, though men account for 56 percent of Covid deaths in Florida.
The numbers reflect an inoculation schedule that has been focusing on health care workers with direct exposure to patients–doctors, physician assistants, nurses, certified nursing assistants and others who work in hospitals, clinics, urgent care facilities and long-term care facilities. Those workers are younger.
Some 367,000 doses “have arrived at over 170 hospitals over the last couple of days,” he said. About 100 long-term care facilities have been targeted for early vaccines through the state’s so-called “strike teams.”
In Flagler County, 291 vaccines had been administered as of today. (More than 1,000 people work at AdventHealth Palm Coast.) All those numbers reflect only the first dose of the vaccine, which requires two doses a few weeks apart to become fully effective.
The coronavirus is an almost equal-opportunity virus, promiscuously infecting people of all ages with the exception of children younger than 14, who tend to be infected at considerably lesser rates. The difference ends around age 14, however. In Florida, people 15 to 64 account for almost equal shares of infections. But older people and people with pre-existing conditions are far more at risk of developing severe cases of Covid-19, or of dying.
Almost 21 percent of Florida’s population of 21.5 million, or 4.5 million people, is 65 or older. In Flagler-Palm Coast, the proportion is much higher: 31.2 percent, or 48,000 residents. In contrast, just 16.6 percent–19,000 people–of Flagler’s population is under 18.
As of Dec. 22, Florida had recorded over 1.2 million positive cases of the coronavirus, including 10,434 on Tuesday and over 11,000 today, and 20,753 deaths, including 74 on Tuesday. Flagler County has recorded 50 deaths and well over 3,000 cases, breaking its single-week record total of cases last week, with 220. It confirmed 107 cases in the first three days of this week.
Is there any way to get rid of this idiot?
No, while the First Amendment is still in effect, even Trudeau gets to have his say. :-)
I agree with DeSantis. Our elderly are our most vulnerable and the ones that account for the majority of the deaths. He is doing an outstanding job and has my full support.
Tim McAuliffe says
I want as many healthy Front Line Health Care workers to distribute the Vaccines s possible. I want healthy Front line workers to administer to those already infected. Most of the over 65 group has the option of continuing the necessary social distancing policy for a little while longer.
A common sense cal by DeSantis. Excellent!
Governor DeSantis gets it! Our elderly seniors age 65 and older are “essential” people of this state. They should not be cast aside just because they are OLD and will die soon anyway. Here in the states once the children leave (usually they move as far away as possible from their parents) you only hope that you will get to spend time with them again someday. That philosophy is not the same in many Asian countries where older parents are cared for by their children until they are gone.
Nurse’s are the folks that the over 65 depend on! We all, no matter our age depend on them when sick or injured. I’d much prefer them healthy to take care of me if the need should arise. The same holds true for the Police, Fire, EMT’s and others in the life saving profession.
While we are at it. Why are the shots only given out over a 6-8 hour period? Why not 24 7?
I keep hearing from the gov and pres that there are millions of shots available. Heck we are not keeping up with the number of those infected daily.
One last thing. I would think that those who refuse to wear a mask or refuse to stay out of crowds or otherwise help spread this around should if they catch it themselves be the last given a bed in a hospital.
I want my MTV says
Good for DeSantis. Give the vaccine to those that are of the greatest risk of dying from COVID. That’s what it’s been all along – protect the elderly and those with preexisting conditions… so why wouldn’t they be next in line after healthcare workers?
The article says DeSantis is a lawyer with no public healthcare experience. What governor does? How did Cuomo do? How about Newsom? How about Murphy? Do you really think Andrew would have done better? At least FL elected a man with principals and not a drug addict.
Michelin Man says
I wish someone would sign an executive order barring that doughboy from accessing butter.
The governor’s decision sounds appropriate for Florida. He is directing vaccine where the mortality rates and cases have been highest. Deaths among teachers have been lower than forecast earlier.
The governor has yet make a conscious independent decision on his own! His ideas come from trump only. So, now we have one idiot telling the other idiot what to do. End result: We are screwed again.
So if it is a problem that DeSantis has no medical experience, than why would your new President elect nominate the attorney General of California as the head of Health and Human services. Identity politics ?
jerrilynn robertshaw says
Desantis said to get the vaccine I am 79 were do i get it in palm coast fla number i call
John Yankovich says
Once again common sense prevails! When your house is on fire you don’t want the fire department come and only water the lawn! This is not rocket science! Good job DeSantis!
It’s the right call, as have been his decisions regarding the Rona for Florida. He is looking at what Florida needs not New York, Not California. He makes decisions that protect the vulnerable, lets people run their businesses and keep their jobs and their homes and their livelihood. All you people do is stoke the fires with your hysteria and fear mongering. Turn off the TV for a week, stop listening to the BS being shoved down your throats. Let people live their lives. Let people make their own choices. If you are scared stay inside like a hermit and hide. The rest of us will not live in fear. We will be cautions and make good decisions. Life is a risk. Get on with it.
My Life is my risk on my terms. YOU and others like YOU should shut up put a mask on and Social distance. It’s not living in fear dimwit its respect for yourself Family friends others . Its respect of C19 and other potential Viral infections that dont care what you think is right or wrong. Stop being so stupid and selfish.
Will there be a single politician in this modern day America to be last in line for the vaccine in lieu of the welfare of their constituents?
Not bloody likely!
Jim O says
Governor DeSantis has it right. Too many media outlets love to bash him for anything he does. Great job keep it up.
Note: all the young politicians lining up for the vaccine. Humm…. Yep, they are the most vulnerable? Not so much. There is still a very large swamp in DC.
Neil Roberts says
DeSantis using good judgement.
83% of covid deaths are people 65 years or older in Florida.
I say kudos, elderly first. After all isnt that why you all threw such a conniption fit about masks. Gotta save the elderly and compromised YOU said. Well now we are doing just that. All healthy people should be last, and then politicians after that. Politicians are no more important than citizens and voters. Seems many wanted to push an agenda that they were worried about others, but now there is a vaccine and many of those same people are crying “me first”. Sad.
Art F says
Although I disagree with most of what DeSantis does and I signed a Change.org petition to recall him, in this case he got it right. The elderly are far more susceptible to serious complications from covid including death. It is a good call.
Stephen J Smith says
The people who should get the vaccine first are those in nursing homes, Medical workers, Farmers, Truck drivers, Food packagers, first responders, and grocery store employees.
These are the people needed to keep the people fed, cared for, and safe until there is enough vaccine for everybody.
Most of us can continue to social distance. But, without the supply chain in good working order we will be in a mess the like has never been seen since the depression. If the food chain goes down due to illness then we will all starve.
Right or wrong Ronnie will do it his way regardless. To me he is luke warm on the whole C19 response and too late to correct his shortcomings on it. We are stuck with him . Hes already blown it. 2022 cant arrive fast enough to Vote out the Pillsbury dough boy.
Our governor and our state health department officials STILL have not implemented and shared any specific plan outlining the procedures that will allow FL citizens 65 and older to sign up and receive a coronavirus vaccine. One would think that if the decision was made and was shared via the news media, that some specifics on how this would be set up and implemented statewide would be included. The news has reported many, many people inquiring with confusion and questions about the governor’s announcement days ago. I have tried to find more information by searching multiple news websites, going to the governor’s official website, as well as the website for the state department of health. No helpful information is available. How can it be that vaccines are already being distributed across the state and healthcare staff are already vaccinating people, yet there is NO public information available to view anywhere on this state’s specific vaccination implementation plan or procedures… only the vague and not very useful executive order document the governor signed which does little to address the public’s ongoing questions? So far, it certainly looks like DeSantis’ plan is mostly in his head and no more efficient or effective in reaching the goal of vaccinating FL citizens than was the WH occupier’s “plan” for dealing with the virus last spring, and we all know how that went! We deserve much better from state officials.
73 % of Floridians who died of Covid were in the 65+ group.
The CDC hasn’t gotten anything right since this started. DeSantis is focused on death rates not infection rates. If you are 65 or older, you are 10 times more likely to die than those in their 40s.
It. Goes. Over. Your. Nose. says
There are many people who are not 65 or older yet at great risk for severe illness or death from Covid. People with autoimmune illness required to take immunosuppressive meds, people fighting any number of illnesses including those undergoing cancer treatment, Crohn’s disease, type 1 diabetics, asthmatics, organ transplant patients. The list could go on and on. If they’re talking about vaccinating the “highest risk” these people should be vaccinated as a sub group of the highest risk. Not some healthy 65 year old non-masker/Covid deniers.
“Non-maskers and Covid deniers” should not get priority access is a political statement, and has no place on this discussion. How about politicians who said they would not take the Trump vaccine like Harris? Why are politicians like AOC getting vaccine, considering her age/risk?
It. Goes. Over. Your. Nose. says
Your people made this a political issue just like your prez continues to do. It is a global health crisis. If you do not have the humanity to wear a mask in public then why do you want to be first in like to get the vaccine? Your VP Pence and other GOP who have been long time covid deniers which has fueled all this psycho babble conspiracy theories, got their vaccines publicly. People who do not wear a mask and deny Covid is dangerous and continue to encourage gatherings should be last in line for vaccines. You, yes you, made it a political statement. Now put on your mask and stop standing within two feet of others in public.
Good call Gov. I don’t agree with you on 95% of what you say, but this is spot on. Protect the elderly and the over 65 crowd. There are 4, 465, 169 people age 65 and older in the state of Fla.