MIAMI – Jackson Memorial Hospital was one of the hospitals chosen to get the first round of vaccines because of its high coronavirus caseload, and the hospital received nearly 20,000 doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday.
Jackson’s CEO Carlos Migoya said the plan is to share the doses with other hospitals across Miami-Dade County over the next seven days.
“Feel like we are finally on the offense,” said Dr. David Woosley, Jackson Memorial Hospital’s emergency department attending physician.
One hospital worker told Local 10 News that there was no question in his mind whether he was going to get the vaccine.
Fernando Acosta headed to work at Jackson Memorial Hospital Tuesday morning, the same hospital where he received treatment last month for a severe case of COVID-19.
“I was serious. I was in the hospital for five days. I almost died, but I recovered, thank God,” he said.
The pathology assistant said he caught the coronavirus from his wife.
“I was almost re-incubated because I can’t breathe,” Acosta said.
Memorial Healthcare System is also receiving the vaccine for its frontline workers.
Dr. Brian Hunis, an Associate Medical Director for Memorial Cancer Institute, received his Pfizer vaccination on Tuesday in Miramar.
“It is my obligation to do whatever I can to keep my patients, my staff, my family members safe,” said Dr. Hunis.
Unlike other vaccines, Pfizer’s vaccine doesn’t contain a live or weakened version of the virus.
Instead, it contains Messenger RNA, a molecule that instructs cells to make proteins that trigger an immune response.
“It’s the only way you save lives because the young people don’t believe in that,” Acosta said.
Acosta had a message for skeptics of the vaccine.
“Take the vaccine because this is really, really hard to recover from coronavirus,” he said. “Now we got something that we know that is going to work. And it’s 95% that is sure, then the risk is only 5%. It’s the only way to stop the pandemic, alright?”
The vaccine will first be administered to high-risk medical personnel, and then offered to the rest of the employees.
“I’m really excited that I got the vaccine so I’ll be able to protect my daughter when I come home from work,” said Dr. Hansel Tookes, an infectious diseases physician at Jackson Memorial Hospital.
Nursing home residents will be getting a shipment of the vaccine soon, as well.
“We’re also utilizing the federal contract with CVS and Walgreens, who are getting 60,000 doses to go into long-term care facilities across the state,” Florida Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz said.
Moskowitz said after the most vulnerable are vaccinated, the second round of doses will be for paramedics, firefighters, and senior citizens with underlying health problems.
At some point in late February or early March, he said vaccination pods will be up and running so more people can get protection from the virus.
“Those pods are basically kind of like exactly what you see with testing right now, which is mass testing, you’ll have mass vaccination,” Moskowitz said.
Just because people are getting vaccinated doesn’t mean we should let our guard down.
Health experts say we have to keep social distancing and wearing masks because the first shot doesn’t offer full protection.
The second shot is given three weeks after the first.
On top of Pfizer shipping out its vaccine this week, fellow drug manufacturer Moderna is expected to receive approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for its vaccine later this week, Gov. Ron DeSantis said, adding that shipments could be headed to Florida this weekend.
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.
A Johnson & Johnson vaccine could be approved in January, DeSantis said.