Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis hit back at the White House on Tuesday after President Joe Biden’s press secretary suggested that Florida was lagging behind in vaccine distribution.
In a statement on Tuesday, DeSantis responded to Press Secretary Jen Psaki’s insinuation, calling her remarks “totally disingenuous.” DeSantis said that Psaaki should have noted that Florida is holding much of its vaccine to give second doses to elderly residents who have already recieved the first dose.
“The insinuation that Florida is underutilizing vaccines in totally disingenuous. Florida is number one in the country among the top 10 most populous states for vaccine doses per capita. Additionally, Florida is averaging more than 300,000 first does per week but we are not going to divert second doses away from our seniors,” DeSantis said in a statement.
“If the implication is that we should be giving those second doses away to other people, that is not the way the FDA has prescribed the series. We are also number one in the nation by far in vaccinations of seniors, as Florida has vaccinated more than 1 million seniors 65 and older to date,” the Republican governor continued. “If we are given additional first doses, we are ready to double our output. The possibilities are endless here in Florida, but it is contingent on us getting additional supply from the federal government. We are committed to ensuring our seniors are the priority and get their second dose, and if the White House is suggesting that we shouldn’t be doing that, I don’t think that’s a good suggestion.”
DeSantis’s statement is the latest in an ongoing back-and-forth between Florida and the White House. On Monday, Psaki was asked about DeSantis’s criticisms of Biden’s plan to use the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the National Guard to aid in vaccine distribution. DeSantis said that involving FEMA in his state’s vaccine distribution would be a “big mistake,” according to the Miami Herald.
“I saw some of this stuff Biden’s putting out, that he’s going to create these FEMA camps. I can tell you, that’s not necessary in Florida,” he said on January 19.
Psaki responded on Monday, taking a shot at Florida’s vaccine distribution efforts.
“And I will note, because we’re data-first here, facts-first here, they’ve only distributed about 50% of the vaccines that they have been given in Florida, so clearly they have a good deal of the vaccine,” Psaki said. “That supply will need to continue to increase as they are able to effectively reach people across the state, but part of the challenge, as we were just talking about, is not just having the supply, that’s pivotal, but also having vaccinators and having vaccine distribution places and doing it in a way that’s reaching people where they are and meeting local communities.”