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White House says monitoring coronavirus vaccine distribution in Florida

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris tours coronavirus vaccination site in Jacksonville, Florida

By Andrea Shalal and Nandita Bose

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said on Monday the administration will continue to ensure coronavirus vaccine is equitably distributed in Florida amid media reports of improper distribution in the state.

Psaki said the White House has been monitoring the situation and it has found 17% of Florida’s population is African-American, but less than 7% of vaccinations have gone to African-Americans.

“That’s one of the reasons that we opened four FEMA sites, in Miami, Tampa, Jacksonville and Orlando and these sites disproportionately serve communities of color,” Psaki added.

The administration will not “hurt the people of Florida, just because of the steps or actions of leadership” and will take steps to ensure the vaccine is equitably distributed, she said.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a Republican, has been accused of funneling coronavirus vaccines to rich communities and privatized the vaccine rollout to benefit campaign donors while many minorities in the state have struggled to obtain access to the shot. DeSantis has called those allegations “wrong.”

President Joe Biden has told U.S. states to make all U.S. adults eligible for a coronavirus vaccine by May 1.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal and Nandita Bose in Washington, Editing by Franklin Paul and David Gregorio)

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