UF Health ready to receive first shipments of COVID-19 vaccine

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – UF Health Jacksonville is getting ready to receive doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in the first shipment.

News4Jax spoke with the Director of Infection Prevention at the hospital about the timeline to receive doses of the vaccine in Florida.

UF Health has been planning for this for several weeks.

The Director of Infection Prevention, Chad Neilsen, says doses of the vaccine could start arriving at the hospital in the next few days.

“What we do know is that the FDA has approved this vaccine for emergency use authorization. What happens next is the shipments begin,” Neilsen said.

The hospital is one of five in the state that will receive doses of the Pfizer vaccine first, in part because of its ability to store it at the extremely cold temperature required, which is -70 degrees Celsius.

Once the hospital gets its first shipment Neilsen says it will start giving vaccines to its high-risk and high-exposure healthcare workers as soon as possible, including doctors and nurses in the emergency department and those working in the Covid unit.

“The idea is to start getting shots in the arms of our healthcare workers as soon as possible and then based on the direction from OHCA and the state of Florida we’ll begin distributing that to other partner hospitals in the region,” Neilsen said.

Florida is expected to receive more than 179,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine in the first shipment, more than half of those will go to the hospitals, and the remaining will to go long-term care facilities.

Healthcare officials say it could be several months before it is available for the general population.

UF Health says some people are already showing up at the hospital to try and get the vaccine and they are reminding people not to do that.

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