MIAMI, Fla. – While shipments of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine are making their way to South Florida, the doses that are arriving will only going to a small fraction of the population. Those who are exposed on a daily basis to the virus, such as frontline and healthcare workers, and the most vulnerable will be the first to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
WATCH LIVE: Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks about COVID-19 vaccine in Tampa.
Florida is in line to receive 179,400 doses, which will go to five Florida hospital systems, including Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami-Dade County and Memorial Regional Hospital in Broward County.
Infectious disease specialist at Florida International University Dr. Aileen M. Marty puts the numbers into perspective.
“Where a number of 179,400 sounds like a tremendous amount of vaccine, that’s actually very little compared to our population,” Marty said. “So, considering that we have to give two doses to each individual, we’re talking about half that many people getting the vaccine — out of our population of over of 21 million individuals that’s less than 0.04% of our population.”
How will the doses be distributed? According to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis who gave an update on Friday regarding the vaccination distribution plan in the state:
- 97,500 doses will be sent to hospitals to administer the vaccine to high-contact and high-exposure health care personnel. (Five hospitals in Florida were chosen in advance because they are equipped with cold storage containers to store the vaccine at 80 degrees below centigrade. UF Health Shands Hospital in Gainesville, UF Health Jacksonville, Tampa General, AdventHealth Orlando, Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, and Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood, Fla., will prioritize who among their staff get vaccinated based on their risk exposure to COVID-19.)
- 60,450 doses of vaccine will be sent to CVS and Walgreens pharmacies for use in long-term care facilities. Both companies are under contract with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to administer vaccines inside those facilities.
- 21,450 doses of vaccine will go directly to the Florida Department of Health. Strike teams from Health, the Florida Division of Emergency Management, and the Florida National Guard will go into long-term care facilities and administer the vaccine in areas with a high concentration of facilities.
The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is now shipping from its Kalamazoo, Mich. plant less than 48 hours after it was given emergency authorization used by the Food and Drug Administration.
United Parcel Service planes, specially equipped with ultra-cold freezers will move the precious vaccines to hospitals and other holding facilities around the nation, including right here in south Florida. The first vaccines are expected to start Monday.