LONGWOOD – On Jan. 4, during a press conference at Orlando Health in Seminole County, Governor Ron DeSantis announced four new actions the state is undertaking of a proactive approach to increase vaccinations, especially for Floridians 65 and older.
Governor DeSantis said, “Florida is putting Seniors First and I’m pleased to announce four new actions that will continue our proactive approach to offering the vaccine to Floridians 65 and older, as well our continued efforts to vaccinate frontline health care workers and long-term care facility residents. Partnerships with Florida hospitals remain critical to our efforts, but this alone is not enough to reach our vaccination goals.
“To that end, I am directing the Florida Division of Emergency Management to partner with the Florida Department of Health to identify additional sites to administer the vaccine and to be open 7 days per week, including the conversion of state-supported testing sites and partnerships with places of worship in underserved communities. I am also directing the Division to hire additional nurses to support these sites and accelerate vaccinations in Florida’s over 3,000 assisted living facilities. We will continue to build on these efforts in the coming weeks.”
The Governor was joined at today’s event by Orlando Health CEO David Strong, State Senator Jason Brodeur and State Representative Scott Plakon, where he also helped kickoff the opening of Orlando Health’s seven new community vaccination sites.
Four New Actions To Continue Florida’s Proactive Approach To Vaccinations:
1) Expanding access to vaccine with additional state-supported sites. Governor DeSantis has directed the Florida Division of Emergency Management to work with the Florida Department of Health to identify state-run COVID-19 testing sites that can convert into vaccine sites. Additional information regarding the locations of these sites will be available in the coming days.
2) Deploying the vaccine into underserved communities.
Governor DeSantis has directed the Florida Division of Emergency Management to identify places of worship and other locations in underserved communities where the vaccine may be administered. Florida has already begun a pilot program in Escambia County, where over 500 seniors have received their vaccine and have been scheduled for their booster shot, which they will receive at the same location.
3) Reinforcing vaccination efforts with additional staff.
Governor DeSantis has directed the Florida Division of Emergency Management to immediately hire 1,000 contract nurses to support vaccination efforts. These nurses will be deployed throughout the entire state to help run vaccination sites, including public sites run by the state or counties and private sites such as South Seminole Hospital. These nurses will supplement the many personnel already in the field, including 800 Florida National Guardsmen, who have been supporting the state’s response since the beginning of the pandemic.
4) Continuing to prioritize long-term care facility residents.
The opening of hospital vaccination sites along with these four new actions are a timely complement to our first three weeks of vaccinations, which included the following accomplishments:
• Florida was the first state in the nation to:
o Begin offering vaccines to staff and residents of our over 4,000 long-term care facilities.
o Begin offering vaccines to EMTs and paramedics; and
o Mobilize our county health departments and county emergency managers to actively vaccinate seniors in the community.
• Four New ActionsFive pilot hospitals received an allocation of the Pfizer vaccine for frontline health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities. At the Governor’s direction, they shared with neighboring hospitals.
• The Governor directed the Florida Department of Health, Florida Division of Emergency Management and Florida National Guard to mobilize EMS strike teams to immediately begin offering vaccines to staff and residents of long-term care facilities to supplement Operation Warp Speed partner efforts a week ahead of schedule.
• Florida offered vaccines to all staff and residents at over 100 facilities in Pinellas and Broward Counties in just 6 days.