FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Holy Cross Health in Fort Lauderdale is now offering the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to healthcare professionals who are not affiliated with the non-profit hospital after first inoculating its own frontline workers.
According to a news release from the health system, the hospital received its first shipment of the COVID-19 vaccine the week of Dec. 14.
Those who received the vaccine included doctors, nurses, clinicians and other hospital staff based on guidelines from the Florida Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Healthcare workers not affiliated with Holy Cross, including dermatologists, pediatricians, veterinarians, mental health counselors and other frontline workers, stood in line early Monday morning to be vaccinated.
At one point last week, when the vaccine was being distributed, the wait time was as long as seven hours.
“I was here on Saturday. It was impossible. They turned hundreds of us away,” physical therapist Richard Campbell said. “I came yesterday, it was the same and I was advised to be back here today, and it was worth it.”
Campbell was among dozens of healthcare workers who waited in line Monday to get the vaccine.
“We had over 1,000 people here on Saturday,” said Kim Saiswick, Vice President of Community Health and Wellbeing at Holy Cross Health. “Our first person arrived at 3:45 a.m. for (the) vaccine, so that’s how desperate the healthcare community is to receive the vaccine.”
Now the hospital has streamlined the process, so the wait time is no more than one to two hours.
While many have made appointments to be vaccinated, a limited number of walk-ins will be accepted Monday through Wednesday between 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Holy Cross Emergency Department.
Recently, the hospital started giving walk-up patients numbers so they don’t have to wait as long.
One dentist who drove all the way down from Boca Raton said Holy Cross was the only place he’s found where he can get the vaccine and he’s grateful for the opportunity.
“This is the best. The greatest,” Dr. Robert Spoont said. “I mean, every day you go into the office and you just don’t know and obviously, you still have to be careful, but, like I said, with all the drilling and the aerosol in the air -- it’s all aerosolized -- I’m really happy to get this project started here.”
The hospital is requiring those who wish to be vaccinated show proof of healthcare employment.
The vaccine is not yet being offered to the community at-large.
While the vaccine being given Monday was the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, a spokeswoman from the hospital confirmed that they received a shipment of 2,900 doses of the Moderna vaccine Monday morning.
Holy Cross asks that those who wish to be vaccinated and do not work in the healthcare industry check back with them in March 2021 for updates on when Holy Cross will begin providing the vaccine to the general public.