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South Floridians take part in clinical trial for Pfizer vaccine booster shot

A clinical trial is underway for a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot.
A clinical trial is underway for a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot.

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. – A clinical trial is underway for a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot.

Local 10 News first spoke to Gary Bitner back in August of 2020. That’s when he volunteered for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine trial.

“It was like somebody flipped the switch and all of a sudden I was safe to do anything I wanted, I thought,” Bitner said.

Catching up with Bitner on Tuesday, he told Local 10 he received a third shot just days ago as part of Pfizer’s booster clinical study. He does not yet know if he received the actual shot or a placebo.

“I think anyone who’s been vaccinated, who follows the science and then who follows the news, has to be concerned,” Bitner said of the recent rise in infections.

Florida has set a new record for COVID-19 hospitalizations in each of the past three days, with a large majority of those being among people who are unvaccinated.

In Hialeah, the Mayor Carlos Hernández hit the Spanish airways Tuesday to fight vaccine hesitancy and misinformation, hoping more of his residents will get the shot.

Hialeah city officials are also opening a new vaccine site at Babcock Park to make it easier.

As hospitalizations climb, especially among younger groups, Gov. Ron DeSantis points to Florida’s COVID-19 mortality rate, which is far lower this summer compared to last.

“I mean that’s a huge, huge thing,” DeSantis said. “We have a 90% reduction plus in long-term care facilities.”

Bitner, who is one of thousands taking part in the latest Pfizer trial testing a possible third dose of its vaccine, said he hopes more people would trust and follow the science.

“In the last week I’ve been wearing masks into retail stores, grocery stores,” he said.

For information on where COVID-19 vaccines are available in South Florida, click here.


About the Author:

Christian De La Rosa joined Local 10 News in April 2017 after spending time as a reporter and anchor in Atlanta, San Diego, Orlando and Panama City Beach.