Florida Governor Ron DeSantis became testy when questioned at a vaccination site in an affluent, mostly-white community in Manatee County on the Gulf Coast on Wednesday.
It was the latest in a series of vaccination clinics as DeSantis touts a “Seniors First” initiative, where the COVID-19 vaccine is being made available to everyone age 65 and over in Florida — an estimated 4.5 million people.
DeSantis said the 3,000 shots being made available for residents of Lakewood Ranch and nearby communities were in addition to the county’s regular vaccine allotment. Commissioners in Manatee County expressed concern that the event favored wealthy neighborhoods over underserved communities.
Local officials were upset that the two wealthiest, Republican-leaning zip codes were the targets of DeSantis’s attention as 5.3% of the vaccines have gone to the state’s Black residents. Nearly 17% of Florida’s residents are Black.
“If Manatee County does not like us doing this, we are totally fine with putting this in counties that want it. If you want us to send to Sarasota next time, or Charlotte, or Pasco, let us know. We are happy to do it.”–Ron DeSantis
Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, who has suggested she may challenge DeSantis when he’s up for reelection next year, said, “There is no reason that Governor DeSantis should be rationing vaccines based on political influence. This is troubling and potentially illegal.”