Florida seniors start getting coronavirus vaccine Wednesday — and then what?

Emergency manager discusses timeline for shots

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – As frontline medical workers have started getting the COVID-19 vaccine the past two days, senior citizens in long-term care facilities are now getting ready for the shots.

Vaccinations will begin at those facilities Wednesday across Florida. The state’s health department is working with several different agencies, as well as CVS and Walgreens, to administer the shots.

“Having the vaccine come out is almost like an Independence Day, where you’re finally getting your freedom back, where you can almost get back to old life” said Charlotte Mather-Taylor, director of the Area Agency on Aging Broward County.

But she’s worried about seniors stuck at home — some alone — saying they too should be prioritized.

Jared Moskowitz, Florida’s emergency management director, describes the process like a tidal wave. More vials are coming, and more groups will be vaccinated.

“After healthcare workers, after long-term care residents and staff, we’ll be doing EMS, paramedics, fire, and I think after that you’ll see folks 65 and older with comorbidities,” he said.

The state is already planning for mass vaccination, too, with setups similar to the virus testing sites. Moskowitz said those are expected in February or March.

On top of drug manufacturer Pfizer pushing out its vaccine this week, Moderna is expected to have its vaccine approved for emergency use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration later this week, Gov. Ron DeSantis said, which could mean shipments to Florida this weekend.

A Johnson & Johnson vaccine could be approved in January, DeSantis said, and that one will only require one dose.

The first shipment of Pfizer’s vaccine went to five major hospital systems in Florida, including Jackson in Miami-Dade and Memorial Healthcare in Broward. They are expected to share some doses with nearby hospitals.

DeSantis said most major hospitals in the state will get the Moderna vaccine, with about 370,000 shots coming to Florida in the initial shipment once approved, and then another 162,000 to follow the week after that.

As for the Pfizer vaccine, an order is in for 205,000 more shots next week and 247,000 the week after, DeSantis said.

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