Now that Florida has received its first batch of the COVID-19 vaccine, the state plans to give it first to those who are frequently exposed or are at high risk of falling seriously ill with the disease.
That includes healthcare workers and long-term care residents. Eventually, the state will focus on people older than 65 and those who have certain medical conditions. Essential workers are also on the priority list.
But what if you’re younger than 65, are currently unemployed, don’t work in healthcare or another “essential” service? What if you’re a college student?
For Florida’s general population, COVID-19 vaccines might become available in February, said Gov. Ron DeSantis during a news conference Monday at Tampa General Hospital.
“As we get into, potentially, February you could be in a situation where there’s going to be vaccines for people regardless of circumstances or health risks or age,” DeSantis said. “Probably not before that and maybe not quite at that point, but that is very possible so we’re just going to keep communicating, let folks know kind of what we’re doing.”
He said the vaccine availability timeline could vary, depending on how many doses are available.
Florida, which has the third-highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country with more than 1.14 million as of Tuesday, is getting only about 179,400 Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines. By comparison, California and Texas, the only other states that have more than a million cases, are in line to get 2 million and 1.4 million vaccines respectively, according to a New York Times report that surveyed all 50 states, asking them how many vaccine doses they expect to receive before the end of the year.
Florida has said it expects to receive another 300,000 to 400,000 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, which the FDA is expected to authorize by Friday.
While 100 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine have been purchased by the United States, the company has already said it can’t deliver additional doses of the vaccine until summer because other countries have bought most of the company’s supply, according to U.S. News and World Report.
It might not be the only vaccine on the market for long, however.
Moderna and other COVID-19 vaccines to be reviewed
Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine is also set to be reviewed this week for emergency use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration. If it gets approved, it could be ready to be distributed in Florida by early next week.
Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine, which would require a single dose, could also be reviewed by the FDA in January for emergency use authorization and AstraZeneca’s vaccine, Politico reports, could potentially file for emergency use later in February.
Florida officials are also already looking into where they would create mass vaccination sites, similar to COVID-19 testing sites, so they can distribute the vaccine. One of the sites being considered for the spring is the University of Central Florida.
What about in South Florida?
The locations haven’t been finalized yet, said Samantha Bequer, a spokeswoman for the Florida Division of Emergency Management. She said the state is looking at sites that will be easily accessible to people such as county health departments, pharmacies and community-based COVID-19 testing sites.