JACKSONVILLE (CBSMiami) – Pharmacies across Florida are getting more doses of the COVID-19 vaccine this week but some lawmakers say not enough is being done to get the vaccine to Florida's most populous county, Miami-Dade.
Tuesday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Walmart stores and select Sam's Club stores across the state will soon begin administering COVID-19 vaccines.
DeSantis made the announcement during a news conference at a Walmart in Jacksonville.
"Today is a great day because we're announcing the expansion of vaccine availability in the state of Florida. And as you might see, uh, see that we'll be expanding to Walmart's all across the state of Florida beginning at the end of this week," said Gov. DeSantis.
The rollout is part of a Biden Administration plan to make the COVID-19 vaccine more widely available at major pharmacies to help people who live in communities without easy access to hospitals or convention centers.
It's called the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program which will begin vaccinations at 490 pharmacy locations across 52 Florida counties on Friday, Feb. 12.
For the first week of the federal program, the state is expecting to receive 65,300 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. Future allocations through the program will be announced as they become available.
In Florida, Walmart/Sam's Club, Publix Super Markets and Southeastern Grocers (Winn-Dixie, Harveys Supermarket and Fresco y Más) pharmacies were selected to begin administering the COVID-19 vaccine. The sites were selected based on a number of factors including the number of stores and the ability to reach prioritized populations.
The vaccine is available to anyone 65 years of age and older, as well as frontline health care workers.
There are 593 Publix locations providing the COVID-19 vaccine, none in Miami-Dade or Broward.
There are 119 Walmart and Sam's Club locations.
Walmart locations in Broward include: Cooper City, Dania Beach, Davie, Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood, Miramar, Pembroke Pines, Pompano Beach, and Sunrise.
Sam's Club locations in Broward include: Miramar, Sunrise and Coral Springs.
In Miami-Dade, there are only two Walmart locations: Hialeah and Miami Gardens and one Sam's Club in Miami.
Winn-Dixie has 40 locations listed on its website and none are in Miami-Dade or Broward.
Democratic State Sen. Annette Taddeo criticized Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday, saying Miami-Dade, the hardest hit county in the state, is not getting its fair share of the vaccine.
"Frankly, if the governor can't do this, then we're going to ask the federal government to give it to the counties directly and to the cities directly," she said.
The state senator said she'll step on the governor's toes and go over his head to get more vaccines to South Florida.
Miami-Dade County reported an additional 1,454 COVID-19 cases on Tuesday bringing the total number of cases to 386,425 since the outbreak began in March 2020.
While vaccine sites in South Florida continue to pump out shots, it's not enough. Taddeo said it's simple math.
"It should be proportionate to the population and to the risk. South Florida is the most hit by COVID-19, so south Florida should get the most vaccines," she said.
Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said poorer areas in the county are not getting their fair share of vaccines.
She's already bypassed the governor, and has a plan to help those in need get vaccinated.
"We definitely want to make sure to take care of people who have less access to the internet, people who may not have transportation, or do a drive by site. We want to make sure to go to them and have a mobile unit. We're ready to deploy that," she said.
Levine Cava said she plans to take advantage of the Biden administration's plan, using a network of health care providers to distribute the vaccine.
The Federal Retail Pharmacy Program sites are in addition to ongoing state vaccination efforts. To date, more than 330 vaccination sites have been opened statewide through partnerships with local communities and hospitals.
"So we're going to put that plan forward and we're going to send it to the state and federal government. We are going to say we are ready, what is your excuse," the mayor said.
The Florida Department of Health continues to identify active vaccine sites. All vaccine sites in Florida are posted on the Florida Department of Health's website here.
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