Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has no problem taking on the White House press secretary when it comes to a disagreement about coronavirus vaccination efforts in the Sunshine State.
White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki was asked Monday about a comment from DeSantis saying that the Biden administration is off base when it talks about adding the Federal Emergency Management Agency to the mix of vaccine sites. DeSantis called the idea a “big mistake.”
“I saw some of this stuff Biden’s putting out, that he’s going to create these FEMA camps. I can tell you, that’s not necessary in Florida,” DeSantis said on Jan. 19, according to the Tampa Times. “All we need is more vaccine. Just get us more vaccine.”
“To try and reinvent the wheel at this point I think would be a big mistake,” he said.
Psaki snarked back when given the chance, according to a transcript of her Monday briefing posted by the White House.
“And I will note — because we’re data first here, fact first here — they’ve only distributed about 50 percent of the vaccines that they have been given in Florida. So, clearly, they have a good deal of the vaccine. That supply will need to continue to increase as they are able to effectively reach people across the state,” she said.
“But part of the challenge, as we were just talking about, is not just having the supply — that’s pivotal — but also having vaccinators and having vaccine distribution places, and doing it in a way that’s reaching people where they are and meeting local communities. And the president is going to be focused on that in a bipartisan manner, regardless of what any elected official may have to say,” she said.
DeSantis wasn’t letting Psaki’s implied criticism — that his state was failing to deliver vaccinations — to go unchallenged. He laid out the facts in a statement posted to Twitter, noting that it was important to have second doses on hand of the two-dose vaccines.
This morning I was asked to address recent comments from the White House about Florida’s vaccine allocation. Here is my statement ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/imwvT67sRo
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) January 26, 2021
“The insinuation that Florida is underutilizing vaccines is totally disingenuous,” DeSantis wrote . “Florida is number one in the country among the top 10 most populous states for vaccine doses per capita. Additionally, Florida is averaging more than 300,000 first doses per week but we are not going to divert second doses away from our seniors.
“We are also number one in the nation by far for vaccinations of seniors, as Florida has vaccinated more than 1 million seniors 65 and older to date,” he wrote.
“If we are given additional first doses, we are ready to double our output. The possibilities are endless here in Florida, but it is contingent on us getting additional supply from the federal government.”
DeSantis also noted that he would not use up second doses just to increase his vaccination numbers when doing so would be a bad health practice
“If the implication is that we should be giving those second doses away to other people, that is not the way the FDA has prescribed the series,” he wrote.
“We are committed to ensuring our seniors are the priority and get their second dose, and if the White House is suggesting that we shouldn’t be doing that, I don’t think that’s a good suggestion.”
DeSantis later said during an appearance “Fox News Primetime” that “we can probably do two to three times what we are doing” if the vaccine was available from the Biden administration, according to Fox News.
“I can tell you, all the first doses that come in, we can rip through them in a week and then some, no problem,” he said.
“We can probably do two to three times what we are doing. All we were saying [is] once you have these things you’re saying you’re going to, [like] put federal resources, and create your own sites … it’s really not necessary and I think a lot of Democratic governors agree with me.
“Just give us more supply of the vaccine, because originally we were promised more up to this point,” he added. “I can get it in seniors’ arms if we get just get more in the shipments.”
DeSantis told Fox that Psaki was playing a game with the numbers.
“What she said is they only administered 54 percent, but what she didn’t say is the ones that haven’t been administered are going to be administered on schedule because it’s the second doses for people,” he said
“So the suggestion she was trying to make is that Florida should be giving away second doses to people who aren’t coming in for their second dose. Our elderly population wants to get the second dose. You’re going to see those second doses in Florida really spike because people are scheduled for it.”
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