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Florida may have more than 1M unused doses of COVID-19 vaccine

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TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Around 1 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine could be sitting in freezers as millions of Florida seniors are waiting to get vaccinated.

CDC data shows the Sunshine State has received a total of 1.6 million doses. Only 633,000 have been administered, and not smoothly. The state has left it up to counties and hospitals to decide how they’re going to administer the vaccine.

Some sites are operating on a first come, first serve basis, which has led to long lines with seniors waiting overnight in the cold. Other counties have set up phone banks and websites only to have them crash as a massive surge becomes too much for those systems to handle.

“We need to be opening up more sites. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be doing this around-the-clock,” said Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried.

During a news conference at The Villages Tuesday, Gov. Ron DeSantis said the unused vaccines could be the second booster shot.

“I think that includes booster shots but also, once something is allocated, that doesn’t even mean we have it yet,” DeSantis said.

A CDC representative disputed DeSantis’ claims in a statement:

“The doses distributed in the COVID Data Tracker is cumulative counts of COVID-19 vaccine doses recorded as shipped in CDC’s Vaccine Tracking System (VTrckS) since Dec. 13, 2020,” they said. “This does not include the second dose being held by the federal government.”

“My understanding that million doses that have been—from our records and from our information—have not been disseminated, are still the first dose,” said Fried.

Fried has called for mega sites to offer the vaccine 24/7 with the help of the National Guard.

DeSantis will be at a Publix in Ponte Vedra Tuesday morning ot provide an update on the state’s vaccine distribution plans. The governor had previously announced that the grocery store chain will administer COVID-19 vaccines in 49 stores across eight counties.

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