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US Department of Health rejected Florida Sen. Marco Rubio's call for more vaccines to account for snowbirds

Rubio, along with other Florida leaders, sent a letter to Operation Warp Speed back in January.
Credit: AP
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., speaks during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021 in Washington. (Drew Angerer/Photo via AP)

FLORIDA, USA — The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services rejected Florida Sen. Marco Rubio's request for more COVID-19 vaccines to account for the state's seasonal population.

In a letter back in January, Rubio and other Florida leaders asked Operation Warp Speed to increase the state's supply of the vaccine, citing the nearly 1 million visitors who call Florida their "temporary home" as the reason. The letter claimed doing so would improve Floridian's access to the vaccine.

Nearly a week later, the U.S. Department of Health responded and rejected the senator's request. The department said its vaccine rollout has been based on each jurisdiction's population, adding that state and local leaders should coordinate vaccine plans to account for their own transient populations.

"Our team of experts within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been in constant communication with your state health officials and they remain available to share best practices on options to accelerate COVID-19 administration across Florida," the Department of Health wrote.

In a statement, Rubio called the rejection "ridiculous."

"The Department of Health and Human Services’ response to my request for additional vaccines to account for Florida’s seasonal residents is ridiculous," Rubio said. "The expectation that our state should try to snatch vaccines from other states is stupid and only serves to punish Florida. The administration should recognize the seasonal population and increase vaccines for Florida."

At the time the letter was written, Florida was having issues with supply. Former Florida Emergency Manager Jared Moskowitz told the Florida House Committee on Pandemics & Public Emergencies that the lack of information from the federal government was undermining the state's long-term distribution plan.

However, since then, the state and federal governments have ramped up vaccination efforts, including FEMA vaccination sites that are set to offer 3,000 vaccines a day.

As of Mar. 3, 3,174,162 people across Florida's 67 counties have received a COVID vaccine. A total of 1,400,524 people have received the first dose, while 1,773,638 have received the second shot.

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