TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has received a single-dose coronavirus vaccine, his office confirmed Wednesday. He did so out of the public eye even as governors elsewhere across the political spectrum have been vaccinated publicly to reassure Americans that the shots are safe.
A spokesperson for the Republican governor declined to provide details, including when exactly the Republican governor received the dose. But it was later disclosed that the governor last week received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine requiring only a single dose.
The spokesperson, Meredith Beatrice, acknowledged the governor’s vaccination during an interview. The disclosure came after a DeSantis news conference at the Capitol assailing the TV news program “60 Minutes” for a story airing Sunday that suggested a “pay-to-play” vaccine distribution deal with a supermarket chain that donated to the governor's political committee.
DeSantis had recently said he would be vaccinated soon -- but no announcement was made by his office when he received it and no journalists were on hand. Even some of his top lieutenants said they were unaware the governor had been vaccinated as they continued to urge Floridians to get inoculated against a virus that has killed nearly 34,000 people statewide. More than 2 million people in Florida have been infected.
Many governors of both parties have drawn public attention to their vaccinations, hoping that will help convince more people to get the shot — allowing their states and the country to more quickly achieve herd immunity, even if it is not known what percentage of the population needs to be vaccinated to stop the spread of the virus.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the federal government's top infectious disease expert, has urged other public officials — particularly former President Donald Trump — to use their influence to get people vaccinated.
Trump has in fact urged people to get vaccinated, but he hasn’t been among other public officials — including former presidents — to get vaccinated on camera. He was vaccinated in private before leaving the White House in January.
Some governors, including DeSantis, had not rushed to get vaccinated, saying they would wait their turn. But eligibility requirements are now nearly universal — except for children under the age of 16.
Last month, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee was vaccinated without fanfare, and only revealed it when asked by a reporter.
Other Republican governors have been more public.
Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, a Republican who in July became the first U.S. governor to announce testing positive for COVID-19, flashed a thumbs up to reporters after getting his shot late last month. “I think that me being here as the governor of a state like Oklahoma, hopefully I can encourage others to follow my lead,” he said at the time.
DeSantis had previously said he preferred getting a shot of the vaccine manufactured by Johnson & Johnson because it requires just single shot, unlike the two-shot regimen required by the two other vaccines approved for use in the United States.
The governor is now one of more than 1.2 million Floridians who have been vaccinated. Florida earlier this week opened vaccinations to anyone over age 16 as the state attempts to reach so-called “herd immunity.”