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Florida Sen. Marco Rubio calls for more vaccines to account for snowbirds

The bipartisan request claims accounting for the state's seasonal residents would improve access for all Floridians.
Credit: AP Photo/Andrew Harnik
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., questions State Department Special Representative for Venezuela Ambassador Elliott Abrams appears before a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida leaders, led by Sen. Marco Rubio, have sent a letter to Operation Warp Speed officials requesting an increase to the state's vaccine allotment to account for snowbirds.

The bipartisan request claims accounting for the state's seasonal residents would improve access for all Floridians.

"Each winter, close to one million visitors make Florida their temporary home, and that visitation is a vital component of Florida’s economy. While some individuals have chosen not to travel this year, estimates still show that thousands of non-Floridians plan to winter in the Sunshine State," the letter reads.

Members note Florida is vaccinating both residents and non-residents in pursuit of both bringing an end to the pandemic and in the interest of the health of all within the Sunshine State's borders. 

"In order for an effective level of vaccinations to occur in a timely and equitable manner, federal allocation allotments to states must ensure they account for all populations residing in a state, not just those that are residents" state leaders urged.

A lack of supply is something Florida Emergency Manager Jared Moskowitz agrees with, as he told the Florida House Committee on Pandemics & Public Emergencies that the state's long-term distribution plan is being undermined by a lack of information from the federal government.

Moskowitz says the state is unable to see less than a week in advance through Operation Warp Speed's software as to how many doses are heading our way, limiting distribution plans.

And leaders say we have no time to waste, adding that, "as the coronavirus pandemic continues to devastate our nation, it is critically important that all individuals in Florida receive the vaccine as quickly as possible."

Since the pandemic began 1,548,067 people in Florida have tested positive for coronavirus. As of Jan. 15, 769,765 people across the state's 67 counties have been given the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. 

Locally we've seen vaccine rollouts that weren't so smooth as websites have crashed, people have reported waiting hours on the phone and systems have gone down.

Seventeen others, including Tampa Bay Rep. Vern Buchanan and Rep. Gus Bilirakis, signed the letter along with Rubio.

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