FANA Members Answer Governor’s Call to Help Inoculate Seniors, Health Care and Frontline Workers from COVID-19

~More than 500 FANA Members Among the 900+ Volunteers Who Deployed to Administer Vaccines Across the State~

Tallahassee, FL— Governor Ron DeSantis has prioritized vaccinating seniors 65+, frontline health care workers, and first responders as one of his top priorities in an effort to keep Floridians safe. Having recently launched his aggressive Seniors First approach to accelerate the distribution of the vaccine (outlined below), the Governor directed the Florida Department of Emergency Management (FDEM) to partner with nurses to ensure swift distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine. The Florida Association of Nurse Anesthetists (FANA) immediately jumped into action coordinating a volunteer effort across the state to help county health departments with vaccinations.

In response to FANA’s call, more than 900 volunteers – 500 of whom are FANA Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists

(CRNAs) – along with hundreds of members of the Florida Coalition of Advanced Practice Nurses (FLCAPN) are volunteering to immunize patients at key Florida vaccine sites.

“The response by our members has been nothing short of amazing,” FANA President John McDonough, EdD, CRNA said. “They are quite literally helping save lives with every dose they administer – as well as pushing our country one step closer to gaining control of this national health crisis once and for all.”

FANA Immediate Past President Jose D. Castillo, III, PhD, MS, CRNA, APRN helped vaccinate seniors in Bradenton last week, and shared several poignant anecdotes, noting, “Hearing directly from seniors, knowing that this is exactly what we signed up to do, can be very moving.

“Our volunteers reported seeing some who were actually in tears, having just received their vaccine. Others say both men and women who, despite their masks, were displaying extreme relief and gratitude.”

“We are very grateful for Governor DeSantis’ steadfast defense of our most vulnerable citizens,” McDonough said. Noting the recent decision of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to reverse course and follow Florida’s lead prioritizing “Seniors First” for vaccinations, he added, “We are clearly on the right path and feel strongly that his aggressive plan will continue to help us vaccinate as many qualifying Floridians as quickly as possible. “

The primary measures of Governor DeSantis’ Seniors First plan outlined this week will increase vaccinations both for the senior community and for all Floridians, and include:

  • Arranging a state partnership with Publix Supermarkets to establish COVID-19 vaccination sites through a pilot program at more than a dozen stores in Marion, Hernando and Citrus counties.
  • Directing the Florida Division of Emergency Management to work with the Florida Department of Health to identify state-supported COVID-19 testing sites that can be converted into vaccine sites. A list of state-supported testing sites and additional information regarding these sites is available here on the FDEM website.
  • Directing the Florida Division of Emergency Management to identify places of worship and other locations in underserved communities where the vaccine may be administered. Numerous sites were identified and have the capacity to administer 500 doses each of the vaccine per day.
  • Directing the Florida Division of Emergency Management to immediately hire 1,000 contract nurses to support vaccination efforts. These nurses will be deployed throughout the entire state to help run vaccination sites and will supplement the many personnel already in the field, including 800 Florida National Guardsmen, who have been supporting the state’s response since the beginning of the pandemic.
  • Directing the Florida Division of Emergency Management to assume additional responsibilities regarding the administration of vaccines in more than 4,000 long-term care facilities across the state. These efforts will supplement and accelerate the vaccinations being undertaken by CVS and Walgreens, pursuant to their agreement with the federal government.

Since last week FANA’s volunteers have vaccinated residents in Manatee, Highlands, St. Lucie and Hardee Counties and are ready to be deployed wherever they are needed.

To receive state alerts regarding vaccine distribution, text FLCOVID19 to 888777.