MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Gov. Ron DeSantis says Florida is leading the nation when it comes to vaccinating seniors against COVID-19.

During an appearance in Vero Beach, the governor said the state has vaccinated one million seniors.

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“There’s no state that’s even close to that. We’re hundreds of thousands ahead of the next closest state. We’ve also vaccinated roughly 22 percent of all 65 and up in the state of Florida and that is either first, or tied for first, or second in the country, with West Virginia who has done a great job. So we’re proud of that, proud that we are putting seniors first,” said DeSantis.

The governor said as more vaccine comes in, more seniors will have the ability to get vaccinated.

“We are at the mercy of what is sent, so if they send 500,000 first doses instead of 266,000 I can double the drive-through sites. I can also give more to hospitals, I can expand the Publix program,” he said.

DeSantis also announced an expansion of the Publix program. He said eight stores in Indian River County and 11 in St. Lucie County will now offer the COVID vaccine, by appointment only.

“Folks can go in, get a vaccine, and usually that’s a mile or two from their homes, so that’s very convenient, particularly for elderly people,” said DeSantis.

The governor said more than 260 Publix locations are now offering the vaccine. The governor said he knows those appointments go fast.

“You have to understand we are getting about 266,000 additional doses a week now, we obviously have a demand that far outstrips that, so you gotta get in early and get those appointments,” he said.

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On Tuesday afternoon, CBS News Senior White House & Political Correspondent tweeted that, “The Biden administration is boosting the weekly supply of COVID-19 vaccines to states and territories by 16% next week and plans to give governors more of a heads up on forthcoming allocations of the shots, multiple state officials briefed by the White House tell me.”

The Centers for Disease Control says Florida has administered more than one million 544 thousand doses of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. But they’ve received two million 908 thousand doses from the federal government.

“They’ve only distributed about 50 percent of the vaccine in Florida. So clearly they have a good deal of the vaccine. The supply will need to increase as they are able to effectively reach people across the state,” said White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki on Monday.

DeSantis said there is no way Florida would ever underutilize the vaccines it has received. He claims most of those unused shots were second doses the state was holding onto in order to allow seniors who were recently vaccinated to receive their second shot in the required time.

In a statement later in the morning, DeSantis said “the insinuation that Florida is underutilizing vaccines is totally disingenuous. Florida is number one in the country among the 10 ten most populous states for vaccine doses per capita. Additionally, Florida is averaging more than 300,000 doses per week but we are not going to divert second doses away from our seniors.”

Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava tweeted on Monday, “Miami-Dade is prepared to rapidly ramp up vaccine distribution to meet the enormous demand from our community. Our county remains the epicenter of the pandemic in Florida and we must get shots in the arms to those who need it most. We are ready. We just need the vaccines.”

Broward Mayor Steve Geller echoed that, saying, “If we get more vaccines we could double or triple the amount of shots in the arms.”

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The Pfizer vaccine requires two shots, taken 21 days apart, in order to be fully effective. The Moderna vaccine also requires two shots, administered 28 days apart.

CBSMiami.com Team