Advisors for the CDC formally recommend health care personnel and long-term care residents be among the very first to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

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But ultimately, the decisions on distribution will be in the hands of the states, meaning Gov. Ron DeSantis will likely have the final say here in Florida.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted 13 to 1 to put both groups in the very first tier to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, but not without some concerns.

Keipp Talbot, an associate professor at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, who specializes in adult vaccines, was the committee’s lone hold out. Talbot expressed apprehension over vaccinating the vulnerable long-term care (LTC) population first, not just because vaccine trials didn’t include them, but because of the already high mortality rate in these facilities.

“I think the concern is that older adults in nursing homes have lots of things that happen to them. Falls, urinary tract infections, heart attacks that will be temporarily associated with vaccines. But not caused by vaccine,” Talbot said, adding that could affect much needed public confidence in the vaccine. 

Spectrum News reached out to DeSantis’s office for a response to these concerns, but so far our requests for comment have gone unreturned. 

For weeks, DeSantis has said long-term care residents will be the state’s priority for the initial COVID-19 vaccine distribution, at times even leaving healthcare personnel out of the conversation all together.

Late Wednesday evening his office finally released a pre-recorded message that confirmed the governor's plan to put LTC residents ahead of health care workers for the vaccine.

"Our top priority will be our residents of our LTC facilities," DeSantis said. "They are at the greatest risk and this vaccine could have a tremendously positive impact on them.”

Next will be high risk frontline health care workers, followed by individuals over the age of 65 and/or those with significant comorbidities. 

DeSantis has said Florida will likely receive 1 to 2 million of the 40 million vaccines set to roll out nationwide by the end of the year. Last week, DeSantis said he plans to distribute those doses to long-term care residents through The Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program, which is an agreement between the federal government and CVS and Walgreens.

DeSantis said already, 3,000 of the state’s 4,000 long-term care facilities have signed up.

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