DeSantis says 5 Florida hospitals could be weeks away from receiving COVID-19 vaccine

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Gov. Ron Desantis said Thursday that five Florida’s hospitals will “hopefully” receive COVID-19 vaccines in the next three to six weeks, pending FDA approval.

In a video message posted to YouTube, DeSantis said the state has been working on a distribution plan for once a vaccine becomes available.

“The state of Florida has been working to procure the new treatment for our hospitals and has also made plans to assist in the distribution of a safe and effective vaccine, which we believe will be delivered relatively soon,” he said.

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The governor said he had met with officials in Washington, D.C., about Operation Warp Speed and was able to get key questions answered for Florida.

DeSantis didn’t elaborate on those specific questions and answers. Instead, he spoke about the new therapeutic developed by drugmaker Eli Lilly.

“I do believe that these breakthroughs represent probably the greatest rays of hope that we have seen since the pandemic began,” he said.

READ: AdventHealth to be first local hospital to receive COVID-19 vaccine

DeSantis said that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has sent over 3,000 doses of the treatment directly to hospitals.

He said he met with the HHS and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials “to ensure that the state of Florida is fully prepared to distribute the vaccine as quickly and efficiently as possible.”

At an event in Clermont on Thursday, DeSantis didn’t speak to the media or offer any comment on the coronavirus pandemic, which has surged across the country in recent weeks.

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In Florida, cases have surpassed 900,000, making it the state with the third-highest number of cases in the U.S.

AdventHealth Orlando is one of five hospitals in the state that will receive a vaccine.

The hospital was selected partly because of its ability to store Pfizer’s vaccine, which must be stored at -70 degrees.

READ: Florida COVID-19 death toll tops 18,000 as state reports more than 9,000 new cases

It said it doesn’t know how much of the vaccine it will receive or which company’s vaccine it will administer.

“There are a lot of unknowns, but we are preparing for those unknowns,” said Dr. Tim Hendrix, CentraCare’s medical director.

It’s likely health care workers and the most vulnerable will be the first to receive the vaccine. Click here to read more about that.

Watch the governor’s full update below.

Jason Kelly

Jason Kelly,

Jason Kelly joined WFTV in 2014.