DeSantis on criticism on state’s COVID-19 vaccine roll out: ‘I wouldn’t be complaining’

Governor Ron DeSantis held a press conference Tuesday outside of the grocery store chain he...
Governor Ron DeSantis held a press conference Tuesday outside of the grocery store chain he says is part of the state's DNA.(WJHG/WECP)
Published: Feb. 17, 2021 at 12:20 PM EST
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LAKEWOOD RANCH, Fla. (WCJB) - Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is receiving heavy criticism for seemingly giving special vaccine access to wealthier neighborhoods.

“There is no reason that Governor DeSantis should be rationing vaccines based on political influence,” said Commissioner Nikki Fried. “This is troubling and potentially illegal. Vaccines should be distributed to counties based on need, capacity, and science. While I am disappointed in the Governor using vaccines as a political tool, I plan on working with the Biden Administration to ensure they do not penalize Floridians for his actions and continue to ramp up vaccine distribution to all communities, so that we can get our economy and state going again.”

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Data provided by the Florida Department of Health shows that residents in wealthier areas and zip codes are vaccinated at a faster rate than those in low-income neighborhoods.

On Wednesday morning, the Florida governor held a press conference in Lakewood Ranch as the Florida Division of Emergency Management opened up a pop-up vaccine clinic for residents living in two neighboring zip codes 34202-34211.

These two zip codes are in the wealthiest sections of Manatee County. According to incomebyzipcode, the median and average income for both neighborhoods are over $100,000, while the entire county average itself is below $100,000, with the median in the $50,000 range.

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The governor faced some questions about how the vaccine rollout is being dispersed in the state of Florida.

“There was no choice to pick certain zip codes. I asked, I didn’t answer the question. It was we wanted to find communities that had high levels of seniors living in there. And this obviously has a high concentration, you look at all these different communities, and there’s a lot of senior citizens, if there were a few senior citizens, then you wouldn’t have set up a pod here.

“This is in addition to everything that’s provided to Manatee County. This is totally supplementary to that.”

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According to DeSantis, additional 6,000 doses are being administered each week in the county in addition to the vaccines that will be available in this pop up clinic.

“If Manatee County doesn’t like us doing this, then we are totally fine with putting this in counties that want it,” added DeSantis. “We’re totally happy to do that. So anyone that’s saying that [vaccines roll out is focused on wealthier areas], let us know, if you want us to send it to Sarasota next time, or Charlotte, or Pascoe or wherever, let us know, we’re happy to do it.

“I wouldn’t be complaining, I’d be thankful that we’re able to do it.”

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