By Peter D'Oench

KEY LARGO(CBSMIAMI)—- Governor Ron DeSantis says he hopes Florida will receive bigger batches of COVID-19 vaccines because of stepped-up efforts by the Biden Administration.

Speaking at the Murray Nelson Government Center in Key Largo, DeSantis told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench that the state had received 266,000 doses of the vaccine this week and expects to receive the same amount next week.

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He said he had pushed for more doses before Donald Trump left office and is lobbying for more vaccine right now.

“If you look at places like Hard Rock Stadium, they do 1,000 a day. We could do 2,000 a day if we had more vaccine. Get us more vaccine. We will use it well and a lot of seniors will be happy about that. We are going to keep putting seniors first. It was the right strategy. Other places are copying Florida and we need to keep our pedal to the medal on that.”

“We really believe in a few more days we are going to cross the one million mark in terms of those 65 and older getting their shots in Florida. That leads the nation by a country mile,” DeSantis said.

DeSantis had prioritized seniors for receiving the vaccine. He speaks out on the same day that some state lawmakers urge him to improve the statewide distribution of the vaccine and make all allotment information accessible to all county health directors and to start running Public Service Announcements about the vaccine.

This week, President Joe Biden ordered the CDC to develop a program to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine through pharmacies. DeSantis said the state had identified a series of places for that.

“We have identified Walmart, Winn Dixie, and Publix to receive those vaccines. It could be tens of thousands, maybe more than that,” he said.

He said a lot of progress had been made vaccinating seniors at Publix supermarkets statewide.

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“We’re now in over 250 stores,” he said, “including 2 in Monroe County, in Key West, and Islamorada. We expanded this week to Palm Beach. That’s kind of our big enchilada so far. 90 percent of seniors in Palm Beach live within a mile and half of those stores.”

He also said those receiving their first doses should not worry about the availability of their 2nd dose.

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“Every time we get a shipment of 266,000 doses, that now means we are holding the second dose,” he said.

President Biden had said his Administration wanted to administer 100 million doses of the vaccine in the first 100 days and said his administration was planning to open 100 vaccination sites across the country through the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

DeSantis said he did not think that plan was necessary in Florida. He said there are enough sites at places like county health departments, places of worship, hospitals, and pharmacies.

Governor DeSantis also said he would be in favor of using the Defense Production Act to speed up deliveries of the vaccine.

Meanwhile, South Florida continues to add vaccination sites like Jackson Health System’s North Dade Health Center. That’s where CBS4 found 70-year-old Shirley Kemp receiving her first vaccine.

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“I am thanking God that it is here for those who need it who have so many problems in their lives,” she said. “Glad it’s here for all nationalities, not just one nationality. The message is that if you are home sitting there, get up and get your shot.”

Peter D'Oench