JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – UF Health Jacksonville received its first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine on Monday and the first 10 shots will be administered before noon, a spokesperson for the hospital told News4Jax.
The hospital is one of five in the state that will receive doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine first, in part because of its ability to store it at the extremely cold temperature required, which is about 94 degrees below zero. The other hospitals are in Miami, Orlando, Tampa and Hollywood.
Chad Neilsen, UF Health Jacksonville director of accreditation and infection prevention, said that once the hospital gets its first shipment, it will start giving vaccines to its high-risk and high-exposure health care workers as soon as possible, including doctors and nurses in the emergency department and those working in the COVID-19 unit.
CEO Leon Haley, who is also an emergency physician, will get the first of 10 shots given on Monday.
“This is just the beginning of a long battle,” Haley said. “We’ll still need to wear our masks. We’ll still need to wash our hands.”
On Tuesday, 100 more doses will be given to employees at the highest risk, then more will be given each day for the next until all front-line staff are vaccinated. UF Health will also deliver the vaccine to other hospitals in the area.
The first shipments of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine headed out from Michigan Sunday morning. Federal officials said the first shipments of Pfizer’s vaccine will be staggered, arriving in 145 distribution centers Monday, with an additional 425 sites getting shipments Tuesday, and the remaining 66 on Wednesday, according to the Associated Press.
Florida, which on Saturday passed 20,000 coronavirus-related deaths since the start of the pandemic, is expected to receive more than 179,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine in the first shipment.