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Florida’s COVID-19 vaccine campaign passes 2.3 million mark but not without challenges

MIAMI – Despite all of the supply and distribution challenges, Gov. Ron DeSantis’ COVID-19 vaccine campaign continued to make progress on Tuesday after recently passing the two million mark.

As of Monday, the Florida Department of Health reported 2,387,350 people had been vaccinated, including 1,284,052 who had received the first dose and 1,103,298 who completed the series.

The state’s report on the recipients who are age 65 and older showed 732,637 had completed the series and 1,053,059 had received the first dose. Data shows this population has a higher COVID-19 mortality rate.

It’s unclear how many of the 732,637 seniors who completed the COVID-19 vaccine series live in Florida. DeSantis did not require recipients to show proof of residence during the beginning of the campaign.

It’s also far from DeSantis’ goal of vaccinating seniors. Florida’s Office of Economic and Demographic Research estimated close to 5.9 million people age 65 and older would be living in Florida in 2020.

Broward County Mayor Steve Geller said it’s also far from the goal of herd immunity, also known as population immunity, the indirect protection that happens either through vaccination or immunity developed through a previous infection.

“In order to get herd immunity, we need to be into the 80% to 85%. There are some people that don’t want to take it for cultural reasons,” Geller said. “There are some that are anti-vaxxers.”

In Broward, the state reported that as of Sunday 203,450 people had been vaccinated, including 109,872 who completed the series and 93,578 who received the first dose.

On Monday, Jared Moskowitz announced his April 30th resignation as the director of Florida’s Division of Emergency Management citing his family missed him. The 40-year-old father of two has a home with his wife in Broward County.

“He has done a fantastic job,” DeSantis said on Monday during a news conference announcing Kevin Guthrie will be replacing Moskowitz.

Guthrie is serving as the deputy director and State Emergency Response Team chief. His career in emergency management includes leadership positions in Flagler and Pasco counties.

According to the state’s dashboard, Florida’s overall COVID-19 death toll, including residents and non-residents, has hit nearly 30,000. This includes 2,275 deaths in Broward and 5,207 deaths in Miami-Dade.

Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava has also focused on making sure the distribution effort reaches Black and Hispanic communities. She is also concerned about education efforts to fight misinformation and is working closely with Jackson Health Systems.

In Miami-Dade, the state reported that as of Sunday 235,129 people had been vaccinated, including 130,887 who completed the series and 104,242 who received the first dose.

“Miami-Dade is home to nearly half a million seniors 65+ and the epicenter of the pandemic – but we are not receiving enough vaccines to vaccinate seniors at the same pace as other counties,” Levine Cava wrote in a recent tweet with a Feb. 9 letter to DeSantis. “We must urgently increase the volume to meet the demand.”

President Joe Biden’s administration announced the number of vaccines sent to states will increase to 13.5 million doses per week. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said it’s a 57% increase from when Biden took office.

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About the Authors:

Annaliese Garcia joined Local 10 News in January 2020. Born and raised in Miami, she graduated from the University of Miami, where she studied broadcast journalism. She began her career at Univision. Before arriving at Local 10, she was with NBC2 (WBBH-TV) covering Southwest Florida. She's glad to be back in Miami!

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.