TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., sent a letter Wednesday to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar pressing him for more-detailed information about distribution of yet-to-be-approved COVID-19 vaccines and about a $6 billion funding request.
Scott, who announced Friday that he had tested positive for COVID-19, said it’s not clear how federal, state and local governments will coordinate efforts to distribute vaccines.
Scott asked Azar nine questions in the letter, such as whether the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will provide final guidance for states to follow, whether the CDC will provide a firm definition for essential providers and whether race, ethnicity or health equity are considerations when determining priority groups.
The CDC required all states to submit vaccine distribution plans. But Scott said in the letter that the CDC has only made executive summaries --- and not the full state plans --- available on its website.
“Transparent and detailed information should be available to Americans on their state’s plans for vaccine distribution. Does the CDC plan to make the states’ full vaccine distribution plans publicly available?” Scott wrote in the letter.
Scott also asked Azar to provide him with details surrounding a $6 billion budget request the CDC made to assist with vaccine distribution and how it was calculated and how the money will be spent.
The Florida Department of Health last month proposed a three-phase vaccine distribution plan that would ensure front-line health care workers, long-term care staff and long-term care residents are the first to receive the shots. When the supply of COVID-19 vaccines becomes more plentiful, the state would enter the second phase of the plan, which would include county health departments opening mass vaccination clinics.
Also, the Department of Health and the state Division of Emergency Management “might open such clinics to ensure there is equitable distribution of the vaccine, in the same way COVID-19 testing was made available,” the plan said.
Also in the second phase, hospitals willing to partner with the state would provide vaccinations to inpatients and outpatients who seek care in emergency rooms, urgent-care centers and outpatient clinics.
Commercial pharmacies wouldn’t be given vaccination supplies until the third phase, under a 51-page draft dated Oct. 16.