Gov. DeSantis will take COVID vaccine, bucking a trend among Republican leaders

Gov. Ron DeSantis said on March 30, 2021, that he would take the COVID vaccine soon. Source: Screenshot/Florida Channel

Gov. Ron DeSantis plans to take a COVID shot sometime this week, he said during a news conference on Wednesday, distinguishing himself amid broad reluctance from his fellow Republicans to be vaccinated.

“I became eligible on Monday. I haven’t had it yet, but I’m planning on doing it this week. I’m not sure we’re going to do it on camera. I mean, we’ll see — you guys want a gun show, maybe we will do it,” the governor said.

Asked about whether First Lady Casey DeSantis would be vaccinated, a spokeswoman replied: “Will keep you posted!”

After first focusing on first responders, medical workers, and Floridians aged 65 and up, the DeSantis administration has been progressively lowering the age threshold for vaccine eligibility. The governor is 42, and so is included among the latest cohort to become eligible. Vaccines open to all adults next Monday, including 16-year-olds for the Pfizer vaccine. It’s not clear whether they’ll need parental consent.

The announcement, made in response to a reporter’s question, came two days after DeSantis denounced efforts to develop vaccine passports —  documents or smartphone apps that would let businesses screen customers for vaccination status — and promised to block their adoption in Florida.

He didn’t specify which version he would take, but noted that the federal government has promised the biggest shipment of Johnson & Johnson vaccine to date — more than 300,000 — next Monday or Tuesday.

The administration plans continued expansion of the pharmacy network it’s using to administer vaccines and will include smaller pharmacies for the first time. “Honestly, some of these I’ve never heard of,” he said.

“Now that everyone’s going to be eligible on Monday, there’ll probably be a little bit of a rush. It will probably start to be pretty soft as we get into the middle of April,” DeSantis said.

States Newsroom, the Phoenix’s parent company, has surveyed D.C. lawmakers from the 22 states where it has news operations and found that Republicans were being vaccinated at a little more than half the rate for Democrats.

Among the general population, Democrats far outstrip Republicans in planning to take the shots — 83 percent to 56 percent.

Some Republican lawmakers told the news service they had been infected with the coronavirus and were waiting for their doctors to give them the go-ahead for the shots.

But the stance also highlights the politicization of COVID following the Trump administration’s record of playing down the danger. Georgia Republican Marjorie Taylor Green, for example, has been dismissive of the vaccines’ value. “She is a perfectly healthy woman and doesn’t see a reason to do so,” Greene’s spokesman, Nick Dyer, said.

Trump himself was quietly vaccinated earlier this year and has advised his supporters to do likewise, as news organizations including CNN have reported. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris both were vaccinated on live TV.