·The sunshine state of Florida is today getting ready to administer the first COVID-19 vaccine doses this week after federal officials gave the green light on the weekend.
The first shipments of the vaccine produced by Pfizer Inc. and its German partner, BioNTech is now at distribution centers across the state having arrived yesterday from Michigan.
State officials report that the first shots are to be given in the coming days to health care workers and patients at nursing homes in the first instance before being extended to the wider population.
Distribution will be staggered
The state officials say the first shipments of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine will be distributed on a staggered basis, arriving in 145 distribution centers today with an additional 425 sites getting shipments tomorrow and the remaining 66 on Wednesday. The vaccine is being doled out based on each state’s adult population.
Another vaccine by Moderna will be reviewed by an expert panel next week and if approved afterward will be allowed for public use. Besides the hospital distribution of 97,500 doses for health care workers, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis disclosed that the state has contracted CVS and Walgreens to administer more than 60,000 people in long-term care facilities with the vaccine.
The contract with the federal government’s Health and Human Services was recently signed with these two distribution entities.
Strike teams being deployed across nursing homes
Governor DeSantis also disclosed that Florida’s Health Department will also deploy “strike teams” to other nursing homes. He singled out Pinellas County, home to St. Petersburg, and Broward County, home to Fort Lauderdale, where the state will add to the private pharmacies’ effort with about 25,000 doses.
According to the Florida Governor, “to be able to have vaccines available for the most vulnerable residents that will be something that will be a game-changer…“We should be optimistic about what could be coming down the pike here.”
US gave final go-ahead on Friday
The United States on Friday gave the final go-ahead to the nation’s first COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer/BioNTech, marking what could be the beginning of the end of an outbreak that has killed nearly 300,000 Americans. Shots for health workers and nursing home residents are expected to begin in the coming days after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized an emergency rollout of what promises to be a strongly protective vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech.
Initial doses are scarce and rationed as the US joins Britain and several other countries in scrambling to vaccinate as many people as possible ahead of a long, grim winter.
It will take months of work to cauterise the coronavirus pandemic, which has surged to catastrophic levels in recent weeks and already claimed 1.5 million lives globally.
The move sets off what will be the largest vaccination campaign in US history—but it also has global ramifications because it’s a role model to many other countries facing the same decision.
The US is considering a second vaccine, made by Moderna Inc., that could roll out in another week. In early January, Johnson & Johnson expects to learn if its vaccine is working in final testing.