Texas and Florida are bucking Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines on distributing the vaccine, choosing to focus more on vaccinating vulnerable populations.
Texas announced on Monday that it was breaking with CDC advice on who should receive the vaccine in early rounds of vaccinations. The CDC had recommended that after nursing home residents and healthcare workers, states should prioritize the elderly and workers deemed essential in sectors such as agriculture and education.
While Texas is still in the beginning round of vaccinations going to healthcare workers and long-term care facilities, it will prioritize the most vulnerable to COVID-19 when it moves to the next phase in a matter of weeks.
“The state of Texas will prioritize people who are at the greatest risk of severe disease and death from COVID-19 for the next phase of vaccination,” the Texas Department of Health and Human Services said in a press release. “More than 70 percent of COVID-19 deaths in Texas have occurred in people 65 and older, and scientific evidence shows that adults of any age with certain medical conditions have an increased risk of hospitalization and death if they get sick with COVID-19.”
“The state is currently in Phase 1A of vaccine distribution, which includes residents of long-term care facilities and front-line health care workers. With an estimated 1.9 million Texans in those groups, it will likely be at least a few weeks before a transition to Phase 1B occurs,” the release continued. “The timing will depend on the amount of vaccine provided to Texas and the uptake of vaccine among the priority populations.”
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced that his state would follow a similar vaccination process, prioritizing those most vulnerable to the virus before moving on to other populations.
“Our vaccines are going to be targeted where the risk is the greatest, and that is our elderly population,” the Republican governor said in a press conference on Tuesday, according to Fox 13. “We are not going to put young, healthy workers ahead of our elderly, vulnerable population.”
DeSantis had suggested on Monday, when the first batch of vaccines arrives in his state, that he would be breaking with the CDC’s advice.
“It’s something that’s very important and it means a lot to me that we’re putting our parents and grandparents first,” DeSantis said. “If you took a 25-year-old deputy anywhere in Florida and said, ‘I have one vaccine do you want it or should we give it to this 70-year-old?’ I think 9/10 they’d say, ‘Give it to the grandparents. Give it to the parents.’”
The CDC was mired in controversy earlier this week after it released guidelines saying that a person’s race should be taken into account when deciding when he or she should be vaccinated. The federal government asserted that minority communities hard hit by the virus should be prioritized over white communities. As The Daily Wire reported:
Minority communities — specifically black and Hispanic communities — have been hit hard by the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, and are far more likely to be hospitalized with the virus and three times more likely to die from its effects according to studies out over the summer tracking how the virus spreads in select areas of the United States.
There are a number of reasons for the disparity, including less access to quality health care in minority communities and city centers, more pre-existing health conditions that directly impact how patients are able to recover from the virus, and a higher percentage of community members who work in service-oriented industries considered “essential” during the pandemic.