Florida Passes Milestone Vaccination Mark, But Still Lags Behind Other States
About five months after shots began, more than 10 million people in Florida have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, according to a report released Sunday by the state Department of Health.
The report showed that 7,965,477 people who had received shots — or nearly 80% of the 10,005,987 total — were considered fully vaccinated, as they had received two doses of vaccines produced by the drug companies Pfizer or Moderna or the one-dose vaccine produced by Johnson & Johnson.
But while vaccinations have helped restore more of a sense of normalcy, the Department of Health numbers and other data also reflect that many of Florida’s nearly 22 million residents have not received shots.
Data tracked by Johns Hopkins University indicated that Florida trailed 30 other states and the District of Columbia in the percentage of its population that is fully vaccinated, though underlying numbers posted online by Johns Hopkins differ from those in Sunday’s Department of Health report.
Florida began vaccinating people in mid-December, seven months after COVID-19 crashed into the state, causing illnesses and deaths and crippling the economy. Gov. Ron DeSantis, who banked heavily on vaccinations to help curb the virus, appeared at Tampa General Hospital on Dec. 14 as health-care workers were among the first to get inoculations.
“This is a game-changer,” DeSantis said at the time. “It’s a great day for the United States, it’s a great day for the state of Florida.”
DeSantis focused heavily on vaccinating seniors, who are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19. The Department of Health report Sunday reflected that emphasis. For example, 21.6 percent of the people who had received at least one dose were ages 65 to 74. Nearly 23.3 percent of the people who were fully vaccinated were in that age group.
The data also show that women have been more likely than men to get vaccinated: About 55 percent of the people who were fully vaccinated were women. Most people have received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, with 743,001 receiving the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, according to the Department of Health.
While DeSantis focused late last year and early this year on vaccinations as a key to combating COVID-19, he and other Republicans this spring have refused to allow what have become known as vaccine “passports” --- a concept in which businesses, schools or other entities could require people to show proof of vaccination to gain entry.
Overall, Florida has reported 2,310,335 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic started, with 36,474 resident deaths, according to the Department of Health. Another 733 non-residents have died of the virus in the state.
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