COVID-19 vaccinations start at Broward Health

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – After receiving his COVID-19 vaccine, Dr. Sunil Kumar jumped on the chair and flexed his muscles.

His response showed just how much it means for these frontline medical workers to start receiving some measure of defense against the coronavirus.

Kumar, a critical care and pulmonary care physician, was the first Broward Health employee to be vaccinated, as the hospital began administering shots just after noon Thursday.

Kumar has been taking measures to socially distance from his family even within his own house, saying he hasn’t had a sit-down meal with them since March, in an effort to protect them as he continues to see patients.

The vaccine doses arrived at Broward Health to cheers and applause through the hallways of the hospital earlier Thursday morning as they made their way toward the pharmacy.

“The first [coronavirus] cases in Florida were 9 1/2 months ago, so for us to be standing here next to a vaccine truly is warp speed,” said Broward Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Joshua Lenchus. “There are no corners that were cut in making this vaccine. In fact, the healthcare community supports the vaccine so much that we have lined up hundreds of people that are already going to take the vaccine.”

Broward Health received these initial doses from the Memorial Healthcare System, which was one of five hospitals in Florida to receive the first shipment of vaccinations on Monday.

Doses of the COVID-19 vaccine arrive at Broward Health in Fort Lauderdale on Thursday, Dec. 17. The shots manufactured by Pfizer were distributed to Broward Health from Memorial Healthcare System. (WPLG)

As these inoculations using the Pfizer vaccine continue, Moderna’s vaccine is being discussed Thursday by a panel advising the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

FDA approval of emergency use of the Moderna vaccine is expected this week, and after that, 367,000 doses will be headed to 173 hospitals in Florida as soon as next week.

Florida began vaccinating frontline medical workers with the Pfizer shot Monday and was the first state to launch the inoculation of long-term care facility residents Wednesday.

The vaccine likely won’t be available to the general public until spring.

About the Authors:

Saira Anwer joined the Local 10 News team in July 2018. Saira is two-time Emmy-nominated reporter and comes to South Florida from Madison, Wisconsin, where she was working as a reporter and anchor.

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."