State limits COVID-19 vaccines to residents

Pointing to limited amounts of vaccine, state Surgeon General Scott Rivkees issued an advisory Thursday aimed at limiting vaccinations to Florida residents and health-care workers.

The move came amid concerns about vaccination “tourism” involving people traveling to Florida from other states to get shots.

Through Wednesday, Florida had vaccinated about 1.18 million people, with nearly 41,000 having residences listed as out of state, according to a Department of Health breakdown.

Under Rivkees’ advisory, providers would have to check to make sure intended vaccine recipients are Florida residents or people in Florida to provide health-care services that involve direct contact with patients.

The two-page advisory said, in part, that “the COVID-19 vaccine remains scarce within the United States and vaccine availability in Florida is extremely limited.”

The advisory came as DeSantis barnstorms the state announcing new COVID-19 vaccination sites, even as Rivkees acknowledged the state is in a “supply-limited situation.”

In a Tuesday phone call with hospital officials, Rivkees said he did not know when additional “first doses” of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines would be sent to the state or how many doses would be in a potential future delivery.

As “more vaccine becomes available, we will be able to determine when we can send more vaccines out to hospitals for community vaccination,” Rivkees, who also serves as the secretary of the Florida Department of Health, said.

The additional first-dose vaccines, Rivkees said, would be on top of follow-up second dose vaccines that were delivered to hospitals late last week and early this week.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends that people take two doses of COVID-19 vaccines for full protection. The second dose of the Pfizer vaccine can be administered 21 days after the first dose, while the second dose of the Moderna vaccine can be administered as early as 24 days after the first dose.

The supply shortage comes as the numbers of coronavirus cases in the state increase and the death toll mounts. As of Thursday, Florida reported 1,613,884 cases since the pandemic started. The death toll of Florida residents stood at 24,739, of which 9,012 were long-term care residents and staff members

Posted in Government, Health, News

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