More governors publicly vaccinated, but Florida’s kept mum

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has received a single-dose coronavirus vaccine

A spokesperson for the Republican governor initially declined to provide details, including when exactly the Republican governor received the dose. But it was later disclosed that the governor received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine last week.

The spokesperson, Meredith Beatrice, acknowledged the governor’s vaccination during an interview. The disclosure came after a DeSantis news conference at the Capitol assailing the TV news program “60 Minutes” for a story airing Sunday that suggested a “pay-to-play” vaccine distribution deal with a supermarket chain that donated to the governor’s political committee.

Many governors of both parties have drawn public attention to their vaccinations, hoping that will help convince more people to get the shot — allowing their states and the country to more quickly achieve herd immunity, even if it is not known what percentage of the population needs to be vaccinated to stop the spread of the virus.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the federal government’s top infectious disease expert, has urged other public officials — particularly former President Donald Trump — to use their influence to get people vaccinated.

It was unclear whether Florida’s governor had intended to publicly announce that he had been vaccinated. The news was revealed during a casual conversation between The Associated Press and the governor’s spokeswoman, who then declined to answer questions. She later confirmed in an email that DeSantis, who is preparing to run for reelection and is said to be considering a run for president in 2024, had been vaccinated last week with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

DeSantis is now one of more than 6.6 million Floridians, less than a third of the state’s population, who have been vaccinated. Florida earlier this week opened vaccinations to anyone over age 16 as the state attempts to reach so-called “herd immunity.”

Some governors, including DeSantis, had not rushed to get vaccinated, saying they would wait their turn. But eligibility requirements are now nearly universal — except for children under the age of 16.

Last month, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee was vaccinated without fanfare, and only revealed it when asked by a reporter.

Other Republican governors have been more public.

Oklahoma’s Kevin Stitt, a Republican who in July became the first U.S. governor to announce testing positive for COVID-19, flashed a thumbs up to reporters after getting his shot late last month. “I think that me being here as the governor of a state like Oklahoma, hopefully I can encourage others to follow my lead,” he said at the time.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who faces a recall because of his handling of the outbreak, received the Johnson & Johnson jab last week in a livestreamed event. His state pushed to get more people protected against the virus and as Newsom tries to regain his political footing.

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Associated Press reporters from across the country contributed to this report.

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