DeSantis slammed by 'disgusted' Palm Beach officials for taking vaccine distribution effort out of health providers' hands

As the Publix supermarket chain takes over vaccine distribution in Palm Beach County, Palm Beach County Health Director Dr. Alina Alonso is upset with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) for taking the distribution effort out of the hands of health care providers, WPBF reports.

"The governor made a choice to pick Palm Beach County to explore the pilot that he had going on with Publix. He did it in three small counties," Alonso said while updating county commissioners.

"In addition to Publix, we want to be able to set up our mass distribution sites and continue to do mass vaccinations in addition to Publix," she said.

County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay wasn't so kind with her words.

"I am absolutely disgusted the governor of this state has 100% percent taken the ability to vaccinate our residents in Palm Beach County out of the hands of our public health officials and medical officials and given that authority to a corporate entity," McKinlay said.

DeSantis has been on the receiving end of criticism for a vaccine rollout that has left seniors waiting. The backlash has been especially large in Palm Beach County, which is home to roughly 400,000 senior citizens.

"We're the only county where all this vaccine is going to Publix until [the governor] chooses other counties to do this," Alonso said. "That's not in our hands — the health care district or the health department."

Also speaking out was County Commissioner Robert Weinroth.

"We can't overlook the fact we have a whole underserved population," Weinroth said. "This is not equity. This is not fair. And if I was out in the Glades or if I was sitting in Lake Worth or downtown Delray and I was not getting this vaccine, I would be offended."

McKinlay said that Publix distributing the vaccine will make the situation of underserved communities worse.

"There are pockets of this county where the Publix that are available do not have a pharmacy and yet he had decided that the best people to distribute the vaccine and to make it available to the residents of our county is a private corporation and not the health officials in this county," McKinlay said.