Florida governor opens vaccination center at Cuban exile museum

Miami, Feb 8 (efe-epa).- Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday inaugurated a Covid-19 vaccination center in the museum of the Bay of Pigs Veterans Association (Brigade 2506) as a form of “compensation” for Cuban exiles who, according to the governor’s remarks, are part of the state’s “backbone.”

At a press conference held at the museum dedicated to the “heroes” of the failed 1961 invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs to try and topple the Fidel Castro government, DeSantis highlighted the fact that the members of Brigade 2506 had risked (and in some cases given) their lives to “defend their countries against communism.”

The Republican said that the policy of “seniors first” is the cornerstone of the anti-Covid vaccination plan in Florida, which is not only based on immunizing the elderly but also people who “inspire” and, in that sense, he mentioned the plan implemented some days ago to vaccinate Holocaust survivors living in the Sunshine State.

“The fight against communism was, and still is, a noble cause,” DeSantis said shortly before seeing the vaccine administered to three “veterans” of the Bay of Pigs invasion who – he said – were captured by Castro’s forces.

The trio included Eli Cesar, 84; Rigoberto Montesinos, 82, and Raul Vallejo, 77, who were the first people vaccinated at the center located in the Little Havana neighborhood. All three already have appointments to receive their second doses of the vaccine.

“When Cuba fell to communism in 1959, too few were willing to recognize what this meant – the destruction of a once-proud island nation. Members of Brigade 2506, though, refused to stand idly by and allow their country to be imprisoned by a communist dictator,” DeSantis said.

The governor also emphasized that about 1.5 million people over age 65 have been vaccinated so far in Florida, a figure that is about one-third of the state’s senior population.

Florida is well ahead of other states, the governor said, in vaccinating its 65-plus population.

DeSantis also said that he intends to expand the number of vaccination centers and revealed that soon centers will be set up at Walmart stores, adding that his administration is analyzing the possibility of adding more pharmacies to the network of sites where the vaccines can be administered.

He went on to say that a site for vaccinating low-income residents will be set up in Miami-Dade County, the Florida county that has suffered the highest number of Covid-19 cases so far.

Across the state, official figures show that 667,830 people have been fully vaccinated with both doses of the vaccines manufactured by Pfizer and Moderna.

DeSantis expressed his disappointment that the US Food and Drug Administration had scheduled for late February the meeting of experts who will study the request for urgent authorization to distribute the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in the US.

In contrast to the other vaccines currently in use in this country, the J&J vaccine, which is 85 percent effective in preventing serious cases of Covid-19, consists of a single dose that does not require refrigeration, as the governor emphasized.

So far, Florida has reported 1,777,983 confirmed coronavirus cases and 28,161 fatalities from Covid-19.


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