DeSantis: Come one Floridian, come all for the vaccines

First Texas and Georgia, now Florida as well. Do red-state governors have more confidence in the vaccine supply line than Joe Biden does? Starting on April 5, all Floridians above the age of 17 will have permission to get their COVID-19 vaccinations, a full month ahead of the White House target date:

Florida will open eligibility requirements to anyone 18 and older on April 5, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Thursday.

Starting March 29, the eligibility requirement for getting the vaccine will drop from 50 to 40, the governor said in a news release. The age requirement dropped from 60 to 50 on Monday.

“We have now vaccinated over 70% of the roughly 4.4 million seniors living in the state. We have also made great progress on those age 60 to 64 and those age 50 and older,” DeSantis said in announcing the next steps.

That’s an impressive performance in a state with such a large number of senior citizens. It’s even more impressive given the state’s relaxed approach to restrictions on public commerce and school operations. Despite complaints about the latter, especially in the context of spring break, so far the state’s new-case reporting continues to look good, especially in comparison with blue states like Michigan and New York:

Florida’s population of 29 million people accounts for nearly a tenth of the national population, which makes this open access very good news for the front-line progress on vaccinations. Add that to the 40 million from just Texas and Georgia alone, that will mean almost 80 million Americans (minus the minors) will have on-demand access to the vaccines, nearly a quarter of our population. While that is indeed good news, it also raises the question of supply. Will we have enough to meet the demand that will come at the beginning of April?

We’ll see, but these moves over the last couple of days strongly suggests that these states have received information that further rationing will be unnecessary. That will allow these states to normalize commerce and education much more quickly, and with that kick-start their economics. Call it supply-side vaccinomics if you will, but rapid vaccination will have plenty of economic benefits for these states, as long as these governors can convince their constituents to participate.

If so, that will put pressure on other states to adopt the same policies, rather than obsess over “equity” issues. The priority now is to get vaccines into as many arms as possible to drive down transmission numbers. If the red states lead the way on that effort, perhaps it might even have a salutary effect on those who are still hesitating to get vaccinated in all states.