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All Floridians could have access to vaccine by April

Gov. Ron DeSantis sets up a new vaccine site in Lake City.
Gov. Ron DeSantis sets up a new vaccine site in Lake City.(WCJB)
Published: Mar. 11, 2021 at 10:41 AM EST
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LAKE CITY, Fla. (WCJB) - Columbia County residents will have access to more COVID-19 vaccines.

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Gov. Ron DeSantis was in Lake City on Thursday morning to announce that the vaccine clinic at the Southside Sports Complex in Lake City will provide 1,000 Johnson & Johnson vaccines to the county. According to DeSantis, this site is part of the state’s effort to target more rural counties, helping these locations approach the state average of seniors vaccinated, which is close to 60%.

“If you look statewide, the vast majority, I think 55 of our counties, are 50% or higher of seniors have gotten shots,” said DeSantis.

DeSantis says a lot of the counties that are lower than the state average are rural counties.

“If you surge at the right time, you can move those numbers really quickly,” he said.

The Lake City site will be a permanent vaccine site. Individuals will need to schedule an appointment with the county Department of Health before receiving a vaccine.

The Florida governor is also expected to announce an expansion to the Walgreens footprint in the state later on Thursday as part of the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program. Walgreens will join Publix, CVS, Walmart, Sam’s Club and Winn Dixie with a more sizable footprint. DeSantis says they will announce more expansions with the other pharmacies next week.

“[The pharmacies] have been an efficient way to get this done,” said DeSantis.

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DeSantis praised several counties in North Florida, including Alachua County, for vaccinating seniors so effectively. According to DeSantis, Alachua County has vaccinated 69% of its senior population. With the additional supply coming from the federal program, DeSantis says they could lower the age to 55 and under sooner; on Monday the state will shift to 60 and up.

“We are close to 3 million seniors vaccinated,” he said.

DeSantis says next week’s Moderna and Pfizer supply will increase to more than 489,970 initial doses, however, DeSantis does not know when the next shipment of the J&J vaccine is scheduled to arrive.

With supply increasing and demand softening, DeSantis is hopeful that the vaccine could become accessible to everyone soon.

“We could be in a situation where we go down to 60 on Monday and then go down to 55 relatively soon,” he said. “Then if the supply gates really open, we could be in a position sometime in April where it’s available and people can get it.”

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