First person in Florida receives vaccine, more shipping Tuesday

Published: December 14, 2020 4:39 PM EST
Updated: December 14, 2020 6:07 PM EST

The COVID-19 vaccine has arrived in Florida. At 10 a.m. during a press conference in Tampa, Governor Ron DeSantis said he saw the vaccines being unloaded. But just how many doses is Florida receiving?

“We watched them unload, we saw him put it into the deep freeze, the Pfizer requires negative 70 degrees,” said DeSantis.

Just an hour later, the vaccines were being put to use. “Today, we will have shots going in arms,” Governor DeSantis said.

But Monday is just the beginning of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout in Florida. 20,000 more doses are waiting for frontline workers at Tampa General and other hospitals across the state.

John D. Couris is the president and CEO of Tampa General Hospital. “The way I’ve described it to my team is…this is 20,000 doses of hope. This is the beginning to the end,” said Couris.

Governor DeSantis said other people in the area, not just at Tampa General will be vaccinated. “You will be seeing folks at Tampa general with this shipment being vaccinated. But you also this week see employees from some of these other areas, be other hospitals be vaccinated,” DeSantis said.

By Tuesday, expect more than 100,000 doses of the coronavirus vaccine to be spread across the five Florida hospital systems that were chosen for the initial rollout.

Doses are said to be on the way for the state’s vulnerable older adult population.

“We also have about 60,000 going to CVS and Walgreens for the long-term care mission,” said Governor DeSantis.

For those older adults not living in nursing homes, the governor expects to vaccinate them by the third week of December if Moderna’s emergency use authorization goes through this week.

For the rest of the population, Dr. Charles Lockwood, Dean of University of South Florida’s Medical School said, “We’re almost there. But this Herculean effort is going to really make a huge difference. And we will have a return to normality. Very quickly.”

Governor DeSantis says that by the end of December, Florida could see anywhere from 700,000 to 1,000,000 doses of the vaccine. We could also receive 400,000 doses of Moderna’s vaccine next week.

Those 100,00 doses expected to be delivered tomorrow will arrive at distribution points. Tampa General Hospital, where the first woman in the state received a vaccine Monday is just one of those distribution points.

Some health officials say that by as early as next week, Southwest Florida could receive its doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. These doses are being described as “doses of hope.”

Governor DeSantis is proud that the vaccine is ahead of schedule. “We will have health care workers getting vaccinated much sooner than anybody would have anticipated just six months ago,” said DeSantis.

The governor says that by Tuesday morning, hospitals like Tampa General and others will have 100,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

This is kind of a beta test. They wanted to run it through, make sure things were running smoothly, which knock on wood they have so far. And then as we get into the next weeks of distribution, you’ll start to see it go,” Governor DeSantis said.

The first dose is, of course, going to frontline workers. Director of Florida’s Division of Emergency Management, Jared Moskowitz, said, “It is a tribute to the frontline health care workers who are going to be the first recipients of the vaccine.”

DeSantis says this is a wonderful day. “This game-changer for the United States. It’s a great day for the state of Florida,” said Governor DeSantis.

About 60,000 doses of the vaccine are going to CVS and Walgreen’s to assist in the mission to vaccinate those in long-term care facilities.

The State of Florida will also be receiving another 20,000 doses. “Then we are going to get several 100,000 each the next two weeks of the Pfizer,” DeSantis said.

The second shot, or the booster shot, is required within 21 days.

DeSantis said, “But as we get into potentially February, you could be in a situation where there’s going to be vaccine for people, regardless of circumstances or health risks or age.”

That is the hope, at least, that everyone regardless of age, health or financial status can get the vaccine if they choose to.

Lee Heath expects to see the first doses of the vaccine by next week. But those will be going to the Emergency department, COVID-19 units and the ICU.

NCH is still awaiting a decision from the state on if they’ll be receiving the vaccine.

The waiting game is on to see if the FDA will approve Moderna’s emergency use authorization.

It could be as soon as the end of this week when the vaccine is approved. But many wonder when even more doses will get here.

The advisory committee will meet on Thursday to discuss the issues with Moderna. We anticipate a favorable recommendation for that. And then FDA will work hopefully through the night to be able to get the UAE issued on Friday of this week,” said Governor DeSantis.

If all goes according to this plan, Florida’s most vulnerable populations such as frontline workers and senior citizens could receive the vaccine as early as next week.

“We’ll start receiving those, hopefully Sunday, Monday, Tuesday of the following week, that’s going to be in Florida, a little less than 400,000. We anticipate I think about 365,000 of Moderna,” DeSantis said.

That round of vaccines could be headed anywhere. Dr. Larry Antonucci is the President of Lee Health. “They will come to the hospital directly, and don’t have to be maintained in a deep freeze environment,” Dr. Antonucci said.

But he’s ready. “We are ready to roll out the vaccine as soon as we get our hands on it,” said Antonucci.

DeSantis expects yet another vaccine to roll out by the beginning of 2021. “The J&J vaccine, which we hope will happen in the new year, either January or February, that is just basic refrigeration, and it’s one dose,” DeSantis said.

Johnson and Johnson plans to have more than one billion doses of its vaccine rolled out by the end of next year.

In the meantime, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar says there should be enough of the vaccine available to anyone who wants it by the end of the second quarter of 2021.