Florida’s hospitals express relief, hope and caution with release of COVID-19 vaccine

by | Dec 14, 2020

 

With shipments of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine making their way to South Florida, the Florida Hospital Association (FHA) pledged to work closely with their member hospitals and Governor Ron DeSantis to insure a smooth but rapid rollout of the first vaccinations in the state. At the same time, the group expressed appreciation for the vaccine’s rapid development, and caution regarding the still-spreading virus.

“FHA will be working closely with hospitals and the DeSantis administration to ensure the vaccine is seamlessly delivered so that our frontline health care workers and vulnerable long-term care residents are protected,” said FHA President and CEO Mary Mayhew. “Vaccination of physicians, nurses, clinicians, and other hospital staff will begin this week.”

The Sunshine State is set to receive 179,400 doses by the end of the week, which will go to five Florida hospital systems, including UF Health Shands Hospital, UF Health Jacksonville, Tampa General Hospital, Jackson Memorial Hospital, and Memorial Regional Hospital. These first doses will go to frontline healthcare workers — based on their risk exposure to COVID-19. Each hospital is expected to vaccinate its employees and work with other hospitals in their region to vaccinate other hospital employees.

Mayhew highlighted the 10-month long medical battle with the global COVID-19 pandemic, and called the release of the vaccine “a significant turning point.” She also pointed out that 300,000 more doses of a competing vaccine were expected by early the following week.

“We owe the researchers and scientists who worked around-the-clock to develop these vaccines in record time a debt of gratitude and appreciation,” Mayhew said.

Mayhew also cautioned that despite the vaccine being safe and effective — boasting a 95 percent efficacy rate — Floridians should remain steadfast and should continue to practice COVID-19 safety measures.

“The vaccine is a giant leap forward in our fight against COVID-19. However, we urge the public to continue to be vigilant. Protect our most vulnerable, wear a mask, wash your hands and practice social distancing,” Mayhew concluded.

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