Gov. DeSantis Disputes White House Claim That Florida Is Underutilizing COVID Vaccine

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis disputed a recent White House claim that the state is not fully administering doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

"The insinuation that Florida is underutilizing vaccines is totally disingenuous," DeSantis wrote in a statement posted to Twitter on Tuesday. "Florida is number one in the country among the top 10 most populous states for vaccine doses per capita. Additionally, Florida is averaging more than 300,000 first doses per week but we are not going to divert second doses away from our seniors."

He continued, "We are committed to ensuring our seniors are the priority and get their second dose, and if the White House is suggesting that we shouldn't be doing that, I don't think that's a good suggestion."

This morning I was asked to address recent comments from the White House about Florida’s vaccine allocation. Here is my statement ⬇️

— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) January 26, 2021

DeSantis' comments come a day after White House press secretary Jen Psaki suggested that Florida had unused doses of the vaccine.

"I will note, because we're data first, facts first here, they've only distributed about 50 percent of the vaccines that they have been given in Florida," Psaki said during a press briefing Monday. "So clearly they have a good deal of the vaccine. That supply will need to continue to increase as they are able to effectively reach people across the state."

At a press conference on Monday, DeSantis admitted that the state has "unused" doses of the vaccine but noted that a majority are to be used as second doses, which have not been administered yet. Both Pfizer's and Moderna's vaccines require two doses.

"If people say there's unused doses, those are mostly second doses," DeSantis said. "So, as of this morning, we had received about 964,000 second doses. We've reported giving about 157,000, but that is gonna change dramatically because people are gonna start coming due on their Moderna, more every day that we go by."

The Republican governor previously criticized President Joe Biden's plans to enlist the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to assist with administering doses, calling it a "big mistake."

"I saw some of this stuff Biden's putting out, that he's going to create these FEMA camps. I can tell you, that's not necessary in Florida," DeSantis said last week. "All we need is more vaccine. Just get us more vaccine."

He added, "To try and reinvent the wheel at this point I think would be a big mistake."

Ron DeSantis
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks during a January 6 press conference in Miami Gardens about the opening of a COVID-19 vaccination site at the Hard Rock Stadium. Joe Raedle/Getty

According to the Florida Department of Health, the state had administered at least 1,565,383 doses of the vaccine as of Monday.

Newsweek reached out to the White House and DeSantis's office for comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.