Where Florida ranks in inoculating its residents against COVID 19 | Editorial
We run the numbers.
OnSite Safe Nurse Kedra Rance talks with patients before they receive a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccination at the Strawberry Festival Fairgrounds in Plant City earlier this month.
OnSite Safe Nurse Kedra Rance talks with patients before they receive a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccination at the Strawberry Festival Fairgrounds in Plant City earlier this month. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]
This article represents the opinion of the Tampa Bay Times Editorial Board.
Published Jan. 26, 2021

Depending on who’s talking, Florida is either a leader or a laggard in inoculating residents against COVID-19. And it’s possible to find data to back up either claim.

Florida, for instance, doesn’t look so good compared to Alaska and West Virginia, which lead the nation in the percentage of residents who have received at least one dose of the vaccine. But Florida has administered more of its available vaccine than Pennsylvania, Arizona and about 20 other states. Two data points, two different conclusions.

Many Floridians trying to get a shot have described the system as slow, frustrating and “absolute chaos.” On the flip side, a recent Wall Street Journal column said “those seeking solutions must come to grips with the reality of red states such as Florida, West Virginia and Texas accomplishing COVID inoculations, while blue California and New York falter.”

New York certainly bungled part of its rollout with its way-too-punitive rules that had too many hospitals and other vaccine providers worried that they would face harsh consequences if they vaccinated the wrong people. The unneeded bureaucracy reportedly resulted in wasted vaccines.

But how does Florida compare to New York and the two other largest states, Texas and California? Before jumping in, it’s worth noting that the figures will change quickly in coming weeks as states receive more vaccine and get it into residents’ arms. Also, some of the numbers are reported in different ways by different agencies, which can complicate direct comparisons. And states face many different challenges — some have more residents reluctant to get any kind of vaccine, for instance — better left for more extensive analysis.

With the disclaimers out of the way, we’ll look at two major measures — the number of people vaccinate per 100 residents and how efficiently states use the supply of vaccine sent by the federal government.

As mentioned, Alaska (12.88) and West Virginia (11.47) lead on the first measure. And North Dakota has administered an impressive 84 percent of the vaccine it has received, tops among the states.

As for the four big states, the current rankings depend on the data source. Figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention don’t always match numbers from local and state agencies. Either way, Florida fares well, though so does New York.

And none of the four largest states rank near the top or bottom compared to the rest of the states.

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What about how efficiently the four big states get the vaccine into people’s arms? New York and Texas appear to be doing a better job than Florida, with California again bringing up the rear.

The takeaway from these two basic measures: Florida isn’t doing poorly, at least compared to all the other states, but it’s not exactly tops on the leaderboard. New York is faring better than you may have been led to believe, and California has some explaining to do.

Editorials are the institutional voice of the Tampa Bay Times. The members of the Editorial Board are Editor of Editorials Graham Brink, editorial writers John Hill and Jim Verhulst, and Times Chairman and CEO Paul Tash. Follow @TBTimes_Opinion on Twitter for more opinion news