TALLAHASSEE – Less than a week into its program to vaccinate millions of people to protect them from coronavirus, Florida has hit a potential increase in speed.
Gov. Ron DeSantis said Tuesday that Florida could receive less than the 452,000 doses of coronavirus vaccine the state was expecting because of a “production problem” from the vaccine maker. DeSantis said two shipments of the vaccine to be sent to Florida in the coming weeks are “pending right now.”
On Thursday, Pfizer, the pharmaceutical giant behind the vaccine, issued a statement contradicting that characterization.
“Pfizer has no production problems with our COVID-19 vaccine and no shipments containing the vaccine are suspended or delayed,” the statement said. “This week, we successfully shipped all the 2.9 million doses that the US Government has asked us to deliver to the locations they specify. We still have millions of doses in our warehouse, but so far we have not received shipping instructions for additional doses. “
The contradiction raises questions about coordination between the private sector and state and federal officials, while the United States is embarking on an unprecedented vaccination campaign.
Late Thursday, after the initial publication of this story, McClatchy DC reported that the federal government is to blame for the confusion. Tiberius, the federal intelligence chamber used by states to monitor vaccine shipments, initially cited the number of shipments to states using outdated, overestimated figures, an anonymous federal official said. McClatchy.
DeSantis’ office did not immediately respond to requests for comment Thursday. DeSantis said Tuesday that the state expected 205,000 doses of vaccine to be shipped in the week of December 21, followed by an additional 247,000 the following week.
Late last week, Tiberius said Florida would receive zero doses of Pfizer in the coming weeks. Earlier this week, the system’s figure was improved to show that Florida should receive about 120,000 doses by the end of this month. But that’s still only a quarter of what DeSantis planned Tuesday.
“The next two weeks of Pfizer deliveries are pending right now,” DeSantis said Tuesday in West Palm Beach. “We don’t know if we will receive it or not.”
The Pfizer vaccine requires the patient to be injected with two separate doses every 21 days.
A Pfizer spokeswoman said the company “continues to ship our orders to locations specified by the US government”.
Florida is not the only state with problems with the Pfizer vaccine. Washington Governor Jay Inslee wrote on Twitter that the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had informed him that the Washington vaccine allocation “will be reduced by 40% next week – and that all states are seeing similar reductions.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention did not respond to a request for comment.
Although Florida began vaccinating residents and health care workers this week – a remarkable breakthrough in the fight against COVID-19 – much remains about the state’s vaccination plan. More than 65,000 doses were distributed to CVS and Walgreens for elderly care units, according to the Florida Division of Emergency Management. Next week, 110 long-term care facilities will be visited by teams that will administer the vaccines. By next week, more than 170 hospitals will receive the Pfizer vaccine for health care workers, the agency said.
Florida was due to submit a detailed plan for its strategy to the federal government by December 4, but that plan was not made public despite numerous requests from news organizations, including Times / Herald.
Despite the apparent hiccup with Pfizer, Florida will likely have hundreds of thousands of vaccine doses in the coming weeks, DeSantis said. The state could receive approximately 367,000 doses of Modern vaccine immediately after next week, if the product is authorized for emergency use by the US Food and Drug Administration. An advisory committee to the agency recommended vaccine authorization on Thursday.
This vaccine will also require patients to take two doses – 28 days apart.
Miami Herald Reporter Ben Conarck contributed to this story.