Memorial Health starts inoculating hospitals’ frontline workforce against COVID-19

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. – As the coronavirus vaccination campaign kicked off on Monday in the United States, FedEx delivered the first shipment of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for frontline healthcare workers at Memorial Health System in Broward County.

The 19,500 first doses of the vaccine were packed in dry ice under minus 70 degrees Celsius. Memorial Health staff carefully unpacked the boxes and slowly placed the vaccines inside several specialized freezers.

A few hours after the delivery, Nurse Monica Puga, an advanced registered nurse practitioner and vice president of population health at Memorial Health, had a syringe in hand in front of reporters at Memorial’s new coronavirus vaccine center in Miramar.

Dr. Paula Eckardt, a specialist in infectious diseases at Memorial Health, took off her white coat. She sat down in front of Puga, took a deep breath, and she made history as part of the first group of frontline workers to get inoculated against COVID-19 at the new center.

HISTORIC PHOTO: Monica Puga, right, an advanced registered nurse practitioner and vice president of population health, and Dr. Paula Eckardt, a specialist in infectious diseases, participate in the vaccination campaign on Monday at the Memorial Health System's new coronavirus vaccine center in Miramar. (Copyright 2020 by WPLG - All rights reserved.)

The inoculations at the new Memorial Health vaccination center began after a 2 p.m. news conference. Aurelio M. Fernandez, III, the chief operating officer of Memorial Healthcare System, said he anticipates using about 7,000 vaccines and distributing the remaining 12,500 to five other hospitals in Broward County.

“I am assuming a 50% participation,” Fernandez said about the number of Memorial Health’s frontline workers who he anticipates will opt for vaccination.

Hospital employees are able to use MyChart to schedule their appointments between 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. The center has the capability of vaccinating 120 people hourly. After the first dose, the second dose will have to be administered in 21 days.

The Florida Department of Health in Broward County is also receiving a shipment of the first dose of the vaccine on Monday. Memorial Health is one of five systems that will continue to receive supplies of the vaccine in Florida.

Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami-Dade County will receive the first shipment of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine’s first dose on Tuesday. The second dose will arrive three weeks from now.

Gov. Ron DeSantis said healthcare workers, long-term care facility residents, and other frontline workers will take priority on vaccinations. He said Florida is also in line to receive the vaccine by Moderna and the National Institutes of Health after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorizes it.

Sandra Lindsay, a critical care nurse at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New York, made history on Monday morning when she became the first to receive the first dose of the vaccine in the United States.

Sandra Lindsay, left, a nurse at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, is inoculated with the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine by Dr. Michelle Chester, Monday, Dec. 14, 2020, in the Queens borough of New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, Pool) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned people who have a history of severe allergic reactions to any of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine’s ingredients to talk to their physicians about the risks. The specific formulation is secret, but the list of ingredients isn’t.

12 p.m. report

List of vaccine’s ingredients

  • mRNA
  • lipids ((4-hydroxybutyl)azanediyl) bis(hexane-6,1-diyl)bis(2-hexyldecanoate)
  • 2 [(polyethylene glycol)-2000]-N,N-ditetradecylacetamide
  • 1,2-Distearoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine, and cholesterol)
  • potassium chloride
  • monobasic potassium phosphate
  • sodium chloride
  • dibasic sodium phosphate dihydrate
  • sucrose

About the Authors:

Terrell Forney joined Local 10 News in October 2005 as a general assignment reporter. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, but a desire to escape the harsh winters of the north brought him to South Florida.

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.