MIAMI – Gov. Ron DeSantis said earlier this week that Florida anticipated receiving more than 200,000 doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine as part of the second week of distribution, but state officials now say that shipment will be nearly 40% lighter.
“Initially, the state of Florida was planning to receive approximately 205,000 doses in our week two allocation from Pfizer, as indicated by the federal government. We are now projected to receive 127,000 doses from Pfizer in week two,” Jason Mahon, communications director for the Florida Department of Health, said in a statement to Local 10 News. “We look forward to using these doses to vaccinate critical, high-risk populations in Florida and we will continue to work with Pfizer to eradicate COVID-19 and save lives.”
The reduction raises questions as to whether the state will have the necessary inventory to make sure everyone receiving their first doses now gets the necessary second dose in about three weeks.
Local 10 asked Mahon that question but received just his statement.
After reaching out to the Centers for Disease Control, we were referred to the Department of Health and Human Services, which said doses allocated “have not been changed or adjusted.”
“Reports that jurisdictions’ allocations are being reduced are incorrect. As was done with the initial shipments of Pfizer vaccine, jurisdictions will receive vaccine at different sites over several days,” an HHS spokeswoman said in a statement. “This eases the burden on the jurisdictions and spreads the workload across multiple days. This same process was successfully used for the initial distribution of Pfizer’s vaccine, and we are simply applying lessons learned. Operation Warp Speed is committed to delivering jurisdictions’ allocated vaccines according to their plans safely, quickly and efficiently.”
HHS says that three official allocations have been provided to the states: “Week 1 Pfizer allocations were provided Friday, Nov. 20; week 1 Moderna allocations were provided Friday, Nov. 27; and week 2 Pfizer allocations were provided Tuesday, Dec. 15. Those are the only official allocation numbers that have been provided.”
The doses are allocated based on the population of residents over 18 and depend on the amount of the vaccine available, the HHS spokeswoman said.
“Shipments to a jurisdiction may arrive over several days. Operation Warp Speed remains on track to allocate enough vaccine for about 20 million Americans to receive their first doses before the end of the month, pending Moderna receiving an [emergency use authorization].”
DeSantis said earlier this week that most major hospitals in the state will get the Moderna vaccine, with about 370,000 shots coming to Florida once approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and then another 162,000 to follow the week after that.
In a phone interview earlier this week, a Pfizer spokesperson said the state’s next shipment was ready, and the drug manufacturer’s CEO posted on social media that they aren’t having any production issues and have not delayed any shipments.
Florida’s Governor has signaled there may be an issue with next allocation of #pfizer’s #covid19 vaccine. But over the phone earlier this week a Pfizer spokesperson told me the state’s next shipment is ready and will arrive in the next three weeks. Meantime company CEO tweeting👇 https://t.co/FQ8jxjzEdn— Christina Vazquez (@CBoomerVazquez) December 17, 2020
Hospitals in the state began administering the Pfizer vaccine to frontline medical workers this week, and some long-term care facilities have also started to inoculate their residents.