DeSantis says second vaccine doses will no longer be held back

Following pushback from a rough vaccine rollout, making every COVID-19 vaccine available immediately is the new direction from the federal government and Governor Ron DeSantis said Florida is prepared to shift gears.

For every first dose of the vaccine, there’s an equal number held back in reserves, but Tuesday the Trump administration pivoted to say it will no longer keep those second shots. DeSantis said Florida might consider doing the same.

"It’s a sensible thing. You have to think through the implications of it. If you can get more shots going knowing that the production’s going to continue to come, you’re almost assuredly going to be able to make it work. So, you have the booster shot ready to go," said DeSantis.

LINK: COVID-19 vaccine distribution information in Tampa Bay area counties

But some hospitals are concerned about getting those second doses in time. Virologist Dr. Michael Teng with USF Health said it’s a logistics dilemma.

"So I think the way that you think about is if you’re not confident in the manufacturing capability of the vaccine manufacturer, you want to hold that second dose in reserve to make sure that it’s there," said Tend. "If there is a consistent, good stream of vaccine coming out of Pfizer and Moderna, then it might make a little bit more sense to start releasing the doses."

But if the second dose isn’t ready, waiting longer than the recommended 28 days for those who received the Moderna vaccine is an experiment for immunity.

"What we don’t know is how long that little bit of immunity we see between the first and second dose lasts," said Teng.

Moderna said its vaccine likely protects you for a year as long as people get a first shot and a second shot 28 days later. The challenge is controlling the spread before the virus changes into something that can resist.

Scientists said Moderna and Pfizer’s current vaccines should protect against the new COVID-19 variant, and the companies are ready to change the vaccine if they need to.

DeSantis did not say whether he will release all the second doses right now, but he says the state is capable of handling it through hospitals, county health departments, retail pharmacies, and grocery stores.