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Behind the scenes of an ambitious vaccine distribution process in South Florida

Broward Health begins administering shots Thursday

Hospitals have intricate plans to ship the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine to different facilities in the area so they can administer shots to healthcare workers.
Hospitals have intricate plans to ship the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine to different facilities in the area so they can administer shots to healthcare workers.

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – It’s an ambitious plan with a fast-moving timeline. Memorial Healthcare in Broward and Jackson Memorial in Miami-Dade are tasked with distributing the thousands of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination doses they received to other hospitals across the region.

A look behind the scenes Wednesday at Baptist Hospital in Kendall showed a microcosm of that larger operation to administer tens of thousands of doses in just a few days.

Madeline Camejo, chief pharmacy officer for Baptist Health South Florida showed their facility’s vaccination prep room.

Jackson thaws a set amount of doses the night before and then distributes them in coolers with a temperature monitoring system.

“Make sure we don’t lose any cold storage,” Camejo said.

Baptist aims to administer 500 shots a day for an approximate total of 3,500 — a window into how the first doses are being distributed countywide.

“I am just so excited and I feel very blessed,” infectious disease clinical specialist Jason Morell said at a converted ballroom on Baptist Hospital’s campus where he received his shot Wednesday. “So that way when I see these patients and help them, I know I am protected.”

In Broward County, Memorial Healthcare System is likewise delivering doses to other hospitals. That includes Broward Health Medical Center, which plans to receive its shipment and begin vaccinations Thursday.

The process of delivering these shots will become increasingly important once other drug manufacturers bring their COVID-19 vaccines to market. Moderna is set to go before the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Thursday.

But Dr. Sergio Segarra, Baptist’s chief medical officer, warns that “we are not out of the woods yet,” urging people not to let their guard down.

“When you know the cavalry is coming, you don’t stop the fight,” he said.

Frontline medical workers began receiving the shots this week, and on Wednesday that extended to long-term care residents. The general public is expected to have access to the vaccine by perhaps Spring 2021.

Memorial Healthcare in Broward and Jackson Memorial in Miami-Dade are tasked with distributing the thousands of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination doses they received to other hospitals across the region.
Memorial Healthcare in Broward and Jackson Memorial in Miami-Dade are tasked with distributing the thousands of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination doses they received to other hospitals across the region.

About the Author:

Christina returned to Local 10 in 2019 as a reporter after covering Hurricane Dorian for the station. She is an Edward R. Murrow Award-winning journalist and previously earned an Emmy Award while at WPLG for her investigative consumer protection segment "Call Christina."