More governors publicly vaccinated, but Florida's kept mum

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis gestures during a news conference Sunday, April 4, 2021, at the Manatee County Emergency Management office in Palmetto, Fla. DeSantis has received a single-dose coronavirus vaccine. His office confirmed Wednesday, April 7, 2021 that the Republican governor got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which requires only a single dose. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara, file) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has received a single-dose coronavirus vaccine, his office confirmed Wednesday. He did so out of the public eye even as governors elsewhere across the political spectrum have been vaccinated publicly to reassure Americans that the shots are safe.

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.

DeSantis had recently said he would be vaccinated soon -- but no announcement was made by his office when he received it and no journalists were on hand. Even some of his top lieutenants said they were unaware the governor had been vaccinated as they continued to urge Floridians to get inoculated against a virus that has killed nearly 34,000 people statewide. More than 2 million people in Florida have been infected.

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.

Trump has in fact urged people to get vaccinated, but he hasn’t been among other public officials — including former presidents — to get vaccinated on camera. He was vaccinated in private before leaving the White House for Florida in January.

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.