Governor Ron DeSantis announced today five Florida hospitals were selected to store and administer the new COVID-19 vaccines, once they are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), potentially within the next three to six weeks.
Those hospitals are Memorial HealthCare System in Broward, Tampa General Hospital, AdventHealth in Orlando and UF Health in Jacksonville.
Today, Governor Ron DeSantis provided an update regarding Florida’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan, as well as new therapeutic treatments that are available to those most vulnerable to the virus. Florida is prepared to distribute vaccines pending approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
Watch the Governor’s update here.
Today’s update follows the Governor’s recent trip to Washington, D.C. where he met with U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar, Operation Warp Speed Director for Supply, Production and Distribution Paul Ostrowski, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Robert Redfield, HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Dr. Robert Kadlec and Director of the CDC Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response Dr. Stephen Redd.
DeSantis said Florida has been actively planning and preparing for vaccine distribution since July.
He reported Florida has purchased five million syringes, needles and alcohol swabs.
Both Pfizer and Moderna have reported vaccines with 95 percent effectiveness and will, hopefully, receive FDA approval in the next few weeks. The Pfizer vaccine needs to be stored in negative 70-degree temperatures.
The state of Florida identified the five hospital systems above through their ability to store the vaccine at those extremely low temperatures and to administer the vaccine to the qualifying individuals.
The Moderna vaccine can be used in normal refrigeration and does not require those extreme low temperatures and provides more flexibility.
“Right now, the best estimate that the federal government has is that by the end of December, pending FDA approval, there will be roughly 40 million doses of these two vaccines available, 25 million for Pfizer and 15 million for Moderna,” said DeSantis.
“Each individual requires two doses. That would mean there will be enough vaccine for 20 million Americans by the end of December. The good thing about this is millions of doses are ready to ship as we speak. As soon as the FDA approves, they will then go out within the next 24 hours. We expect our hospitals, hopefully, to receive these within the next three to six weeks. It is all contingent on when the FDA approves,” DeSantis continued.
DeSantis said both CVS and Walgreens will receive the vaccine at about the same time as the hospitals and will also begin administering them to residents of long-term care facilities, who are the most vulnerable citizens when it comes to COVID-19.
“So far, nearly 2,000 long-term care facilities have registered so that they can start getting their residents vaccinated as soon as the vaccine arrives,” said DeSantis.
DeSantis also said, based on demand identified by Florida hospitals, the Health and Human Services department sent over 3,000 doses of a new COVID treatment directly to Florida hospitals.
DeSantis said, these doses arrived just within the past few days, and they plan on sending a similar amount every week for the foreseeable future.
“I’ve spoken with a number of hospital CEOs,” said DeSantis, “and I’m pleased to report that many have already received the treatment and are moving forward administering the treatment.”
These new treatments is a therapeutic developed by Eli Lilly, approved for emergency use by the FDA which is a “monoclonal antibody cocktail”. According to DeSantis, it is administered through an IV, takes about an hour for the IV to be administered, and an additional hour for patient observation. It is best used for people who are at high-risk of severe complications from COVID-19.
The key to this therapy is delivering the IV as soon in the infection as possible. This will be people who show up to an emergency room, are developing symptoms but are not yet at a critical state.
“Data from clinical trials found a 70 percent reduction in hospitalized patients who utilized this treatment,” said DeSantis.
He also said a similar “cocktail” being developed by Regeneron, is currently pending before the FDA for emergency use authorization, may also be available soon.