Seeking to smear Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis on vaccine distribution, the mainstream media seized on a vaccination event in a wealthy community last week, while ignoring the outreach in underserved communities, according to National Review.
"We're trying to vaccinate as many seniors as possible," Florida emergency management director Jared Moskowitz, a Democrat, told National Review. "Does a senior who lives in a housing project who might get COVID versus a senior that lives in Century Village or The Villages, if they get COVID, they both wind up in the hospital potentially in each of their communities. And that at end of the day, we have to vaccinate everybody."
The Florida effort did go into a wealthy community, Lakewood Ranch in Manatee County, just south of St. Petersburg, to inoculate 3,000 seniors, drawing a rebuke from Florida state Rep. Michele Rayner, D-St. Petersburg, and the attention of skeptical media, including The Tampa Times ("Well-off Manatee residents get special vaccine access, courtesy of DeSantis") and The Washington Post.
"We saw that we needed to get more seniors in that particular county, so we worked with some of the local neighborhoods and said, 'Where are there a lot of seniors? Where can we go in and knock out several thousand very quickly to get those numbers up?'" DeSantis told Fox News this week. "We're not going to stop until every senior that wants a shot gets a shot. And we're not going to let some of the naysayers slow us down."
Rayner claimed Gov. DeSantis was putting "affluent neighborhoods in Manatee County over our underserved populations" and "rationing vaccines based on political influence," but the governor shot back.
"If Manatee County doesn't like us doing this, then we are totally fine with putting this in counties that want it and we're totally happy to do that," DeSantis said, per the report.
The Post seized on DeSantis' remarks: "County officials blasted DeSantis over vaccine site in an affluent white area. So he threatened to take away the doses."
But Moskowitz, a Democrat, rebuked the media attack for a incomplete story that "fit a narrative that many wanted to tell," adding his agency as director by DeSantis has also gone into many minority communities, including forcing on churches.
"We started doing this with churches because we were very concerned that doses were not getting to the minority community," Moskowitz told National Review. "Even though we had sites in the minority community, because of the digital divide of booking appointments online and vaccine hesitancy, they were not getting into the minority community."
Pastor Marvin Clyde Zanders II praised the vaccination effort at his church as "very well orchestrated."
"Our communities need access to the vaccine, and I think there is an effort to get it done, because all are vulnerable," Zanders told National Review. "Every individual that's a human is vulnerable."
What you might not have read in the national media, per the Review, is Florida leads the national in vaccinating seniors 65 and older.
"We're going to continue to lead seniors in the country by giving vaccines to seniors," Moskowitz told National Review. "Whoever wants it, whenever they want it, in every city, in every county, every walk of life, we're going to continue to give the vaccine to seniors to save lives and get people out of this nightmare."
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