Home Part of States Newsroom
Health departments in other states are giving out the new COVID-19 shot. Will Florida?


Health departments in other states are giving out the new COVID-19 shot. Will Florida?

Sep 26, 2023 | 4:24 pm ET
By Jackie Llanos
Health departments in other states are giving out the new COVID-19 shot. Will Florida?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended Americans should get the updated COVID-19 vaccine. (Javier Zayas Photography/Getty Images)

As Gov. Ron DeSantis campaigns on COVID-19 vaccine distrust, local health departments in other states have started doling out the updated shot. Meanwhile, the Florida Department of Health has not made public any plans to follow suit.

Two weeks have passed since Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo advised people under 65 to skip the updated vaccine recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Since then, retail pharmacies such as CVS and Walgreens began distributing the vaccine in Florida, but the rollout hasn’t been entirely smooth.

For example, a small percentage of Florida Blue customers had trouble getting the vaccine covered by the insurer because of an error in its system, a spokesperson wrote to Florida Phoenix.

But before the federal government ended the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency in May, people could also get the shot at their local health departments.

In states such as Texas, Illinois, Georgia and South Carolina, county health departments continue administering the vaccine to uninsured or underinsured folks. Although some in Georgia and South Carolina are still awaiting shipments of the vaccine, they expect to receive them this week and the next, communications officers in those states told the Phoenix.

Where are the doses?

In the Sunshine State, it’s unclear when people will be able to get the shot from the local health departments. The Florida Department of Health has yet to share that information with the Phoenix. County health departments including Broward, Palm Beach and Hillsborough directed the Phoenix’s inquiries to the state health department.

A spokesperson from the Leon County Health Department wrote that they weren’t administering the vaccine and directed further questions to the main state communications office. The Marion County Health Department in Central Florida is expecting a shipment of vaccine doses soon, the public information officer told the Phoenix on Friday. The officer did not provide a specific date.

In the meantime, DeSantis continues to further his anti-COVID vaccine sentiments, saying in an ABC News interview last week that he would not fund the vaccine if he became president.

People who do not have health insurance, or whose health insurance doesn’t cover the shot, can find pharmacies providing them for free through the Bridge Access Program.

There have not been as many cases of COVID-19 in Florida in September as there were in August. The Florida Department of Health reported 19,019 cases in the first week of September and 15,690 in the second week, according to the biweekly report on the disease.