Study: Rapid COVID-19 vaccine rollout “backfired” in Florida

ORLANDO, Fla. — New data shows that states that rushed to offer COVID-19 vaccines to larger groups of people have actually vaccinated less of their population than those that moved more slowly.

Despite the rush to get shots into arms across the country, analysis of data from the first three months of distribution suggests it’s not necessarily better to try to go faster.

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Researchers say that hurried approach caused the initial rollout to backfire as the rapid expansion of eligibility caused a surge in demand for the shots that was too great for some states to handle, leading to “serious disarray.”

After shots started being administered at hospitals and long-term care facilities, Governor Ron DeSantis announced seniors 65 years of age and older would be next in line.

“It makes no sense for someone who’s 42 to jump ahead of somebody that’s 70 years old,” DeSantis said back in December.

However, close to 21 percent of Florida’s population is 65 or older, meaning demand for the vaccines rose sharply, making it difficult to book an appointment.

Experts say in states like Florida and South Carolina, vaccine supplies proved to be insufficient and unreliable.

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Internal Medicine expert Dr. Aftab Khan says he saw the supply and demand issues coming.

“We just went too far too quickly,” Dr. Khan says. “We did not have enough infrastructure built out for this demand.” The Analysis by the Associated press shows that states that rolled their vaccines out more slowly and methodically- like Hawaii and Connecticut- have vaccinated larger shares of their population.

The report shows Florida has administered 35,000 shots per 100,000 people, near the bottom of the list.

States at the top of the list went with the smaller more targeted groups of essential and front-line workers, suggesting that starting smaller may have proven to be more effective.

“We have to focus and target those groups first before we jump from this group to that group and that group,” Dr. Khan says.

READ: New CDC rules say fully vaccinated can visit unvaccinated, but may need to take precautions

Moving forward, Dr. Khan says the situation has greatly improved as the governor considers opening up COVID vaccine eligibility to everyone.

He says many of the kinks in the appointments have been fixed and, perhaps most importantly, “We will have ample supply of vaccines.”