MIAMI – Gov. Ron DeSantis was in Miami on Monday to launch the expansion of Florida’s COVID-19 vaccination program for homebound seniors to veterans of the Bay of Pigs invasion.
DeSantis announced the initiative Monday morning at the Bay of Pigs Museum and Library in Little Havana, where three men who were captured by Fidel Castro’s forces in the 1960s and spent time as prisoners of war were vaccinated.
Last week, DeSantis visited Aventura as the state began vaccinating homebound Holocaust survivors.
“We are inspired by folks that have been willing to stand up and fight for freedom,” the governor said. “Cuba’s loss was our gain. These are veterans that we really appreciate.”
Other veterans and their spouses will receive their shots in the comfort of their own homes, DeSantis said.
WATCH A REPLAY OF MONDAY’S NEWS CONFERENCE BELOW:
Raul Vallejo was among the three vets vaccinated Monday at the Bay of Bigs Museum. He was imprisoned for almost two years after being captured by Castro’s troops.
“I’m very pleased that the governor [is taking] care of the veterans and people who offered their lives,” Vallejo said.
The Bay of Pigs was a failed invasion in April of 1961. The CIA recruited about 1,400 Cuban exiles who were living in Miami and trained them to overthrow Castro.
They were hoping the spark an anti-Castro uprising on the island, but when the guerrilla army arrived at the Bay of Pigs in southern Cuba, Castro’s troops already knew about the attack and defeated the exiles.
Some were killed, most were taken prisoner.
In other vaccine updates, DeSantis said the state is expecting a shipment of about 330,000 doses from the federal government this week, up from 307,000 doses last week.
DeSantis also said that in the coming days he’s planning to announce the opening of a new site in Miami-Dade County to vaccinate underserved communities.
“We’re going to try to do 200 seniors a day, 7 days a week in an area that may not have as many people that have been vaccinated,” he said.
The governor said he’s also working to make the vaccine available at some Walmart locations, too, as there are some communities that don’t have a Publix but do have Walmart.
DeSantis trumpeted the state’s push to vaccinate its seniors first and also said that he was “perplexed” that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine’s approval is likely not to come until the end of February. That single-dose shot could bolster the supply of vaccines, adding to the inventory being sent by Moderna and Pfizer, which are two-dose vaccines.
“Our view is seniors first,” he said. “We’re not going to rest until every senior who wants a shot gets a shot.”
DeSantis was clearly riding high Monday morning after the “lifelong Buccaneers fan” watched his team win the Super Bowl Sunday night, and he began his remarks by shouting out Tom Brady and the Bucs.
He also noted that Florida had a team in the most recent final for each of the four major American professional sports. The Buccaneers and the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning are defending champs, while the Miami Heat reached the NBA Finals and the Tampa Bay Rays were in the World Series last year.