Gov. DeSantis opens church-affiliated COVID vaccination program in Bay County

Gov. Ron DeSantis oversees administration of COVID vaccine at the Lynn Haven Senior Center on Jan. 10, 2021. Source: Screenshot/Governor's Office

Gov. Ron DeSantis continued his barnstorming tour of Florida opening COVID-10 vaccination sites over the weekend. On Sunday, it took him to Bay County, where the state, count,y and 50 local houses of worship are sponsoring a clinic targeting senior citizens for the shots.

The venue was the Lynn Haven Senior Center, but church-sponsored programs will have capacity to administer 500 shots per day in Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood, Tallahassee, Tampa, Port St. Lucie, and Jacksonville.

Having initially directed doses toward nursing home residents and staff and front-line medical workers, DeSantis gave priority to the 65-and-older cohort, reasoning they are more likely to suffer serious complications or death through coronavirus infections.

Even if that puts them ahead of other essentially workers. The governor argued Sunday that the policy makes the most sense medically and morally.

The broader population likely will have to wait for approval of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, still awaiting federal emergency approval. The company has something like 100 million doses ready to go, DeSantis said.

And, unlike the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, the J&J product requires only one shot.

“You get that out into society, and I’m confident that people are going to be able to have access to that,” DeSantis said.

He acknowledged the demand for shots far outstrips the supply still and that seniors are having trouble arranging vaccination appointments with the hospitals, public health clinics, state-run drive-through sites, and Publix pharmacies now administering doses.

Even though the state expects another 250,000 doses next week, “we’ll burn through that without question,” the governor said.

“If you can’t get in there now, just hang in there,” he added.

Michael Moline
Michael Moline has covered politics and the legal system for more than 30 years. He is a former managing editor of the San Francisco Daily Journal and former assistant managing editor of The National Law Journal. He began his career covering the Florida Capitol for United Press International. More recently, he wrote for Florida Politics.